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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    In Banter there was some discussion about starting a writing workshop here in the playground, and since I've been thinking about this for a while and how to make it work, I thought I'd go ahead and take the initiative.

    The Rules

    A scheduled workshop is very tricky to pull off online or in real life, so I'm modeling the basic structure on a on online workshop called Critters. There's no deadlines. Basically, if you want critiques, you have to give some first. To keep things simple here, there is one overall Rule:

    Before posting a story, give 3 critiques to other people.

    This applies for each work you wish to post. If you've given your 3 critiques, have posted your story and gotten reviews for it, and now want to post another, go find 3 more stories to critique first.

    Since it's clearly impossible to critique stories that aren't here yet, there is a one-time exception for the first 8 members to post a story. Once those 1st 8 have been posted, if you want to add your own, you must go through them and find 3 to critique first. For those first 8, it's not a free ride. If you want to post a 2nd story, you still owe 3 critiques for #1, plus 3 more before you can post #2. Got it?

    As of 9/25/09, the open slots for free posting of a story are closed. Please post 3 critiques now before posting new stories per the rules above. A big thanks for everybody who helped get this started.

    You can stockpile your critiques. If you do 6 before posting any stories, then you can post 2 whenever you like. Feel free to always do extra, or even to join if you just want to critique only, the more points of view provided for each work, the more the author has to work with.

    Signing Up.

    This is simple. If you wish to join the workshop, simply find a story, write up a critique, and post it. I will add your name to the Roster (in post #2), and keep track of everybody's stories and critiques. When you see that your critique count has reached 3, feel free to post your writing whenever you wish.

    What counts as a critique?

    First, be polite.

    I'm not going to get picky about "how much" is in the critique unless people start exploiting the format by obviously trying to say as little as possible just to up their critique count before posting their own work. Remember that analyzing other people's writing is in most cases, more enlightening than hearing what others say about your own work.

    So be as helpful as you can within your abilities. Not everybody has a Masters Degree in English literature, so just be honest with your reactions, both negative and positive. If spotting typos and grammar errors is your strength, go with that, if characters are your forte, talk about that.

    Also use it as an opportunity to look at features of that story that you're working on in your own writing. Talking about how well somebody has created the background to a world, for example, may not be "fixing" anything, but it not only helps you understand the techniques they used to make it good, you're pointing out tips that other people can use themselves.

    Anyway, I'll have a 3rd post in the thread where I'll collect workshop advice and tips. Just be aware that saying, "This is very good!" or "I don't like horror stories, so I couldn't get into it." isn't going to cut it.

    Posting Stories.

    First, remember that GITP Forum rules are always in effect. No banned words, no real world religion, no politics, no explicit sexual material, etc. What this workshop provides, however, is a known pool of people you know are willing to help, so feel free to ask if anybody wishes to read via PM or e-mail if your work contains those elements that are against forum rules.

    To keep things simple, none of those stories or critiques will count towards official workshop numbers. Courtesy and practicalities will lean towards you if people see you've been helpful to others on the board, however, so keep that in mind when you ask.

    Post your story title, the genre you feel it fits within, and if you have it, a word count at the beginning of your post. If there are particular issues you'd like critiques to address, go ahead and mention them, just realize that this doesn't obligate people to talk about them.

    Post the story within spoiler tags.

    The work does not have to be a complete story, it can be an excerpt from a larger piece. Story beginnings are fine, but be very careful because a reader can't really get an idea of whether it works or not without knowing where it eventually goes, so if all you do is post story beginnings, you're probably wasting everybody's time.

    After questions about it, a couple of clarification. For novel excerpts, whatever you can fit within a single post, which is approximately 8000 words, will count as a single submission. You can do less in a post, but the 3 critiques per submission rule applies either way.

    If a complete short story is longer than a single post, go ahead and use 2 (or more) consecutive messages to post it, this will count as 1 submission. However, if you post the first half now to get some feedback, then next week post the 2nd half, that will count as 2 submissions and you'll need 6 overall critiques to do that.

    Posting Critiques.

    A good format for the critiques will probably evolve over time, so do what feels right to you for now, but to help me keep track, please start your official critique posts like this:

    Critique: "My Favorite Story" by WriterName. Then put the critique in a spoiler. Also, if you do multiple critiques at the same time, go ahead and put them all into the same post.

    Discussing other critiques is fine and can be helpful in defining terms and methods, but let's try not to get carried away with.

    Authors, feel free to ask followup questions to critiques, this can often help enlighten others, but again, if it gets beyond a couple of exchanges, it's probably best to take it to PM.

    I think that's all we need for now. None of this is written in stone, and we'll learn what we'll need to add or adjust to these guidelines as we go, so feel free to makes suggestions at any time.
    Last edited by Jimor; 2009-09-25 at 01:45 PM.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Workshop Roster
    (Current as of Post #206, 2/22/11)

    Alarra (3 critiques)
    "Heartstone", 1/25/10, Fantasy, 3988 words
    Critiques: banjo1985, Neon Knight, averagejoe, Zom B, DSCrankshaw

    averagejoe (8 critiques)

    banjo1985 (6 critiques)
    "Inner Demons" (Prologue Ch1, Prologue Ch2), 9/19/09, Modern Fantasy/Horror, 1650 words
    Critiques: thurge namor, Deckmaster, Helanna, Calinero, rakkoon, waterpenguin43
    "Inner Demons" (Ch1, Ch2, Ch3), (Rewrite), 7/22/10, Modern Fantasy/Horror, 5000 words
    Critiques: FoE, Savannah, JessGulbranson

    Calinero (2 critiques)

    changingvamp (1 critique)

    chiasaur11 (1 critique)

    cho_j (3 critiques)

    Conjob (5 critiques)

    curtis (2 critiques)

    Danne (2 critiques)

    Darius Macab (1 critique)

    Deckmaster (3 critiques)

    DSCrankshaw (3 critiques)
    Untitled Steampunkish Story, 2,247 words, 4/13/10
    Critiques: Danne, Ether, The Pressman, The_JJ

    EmeraldPhoenix (3 critiques)

    Ether (3 critiques)

    Falgorn (2 critiques)

    FoE (1 critique)

    Garwain (3 critiques)
    "Brallers Ballance", 9/30/10, Fantasy Story Intro, 750 words
    Critiques: Tira-chan, averagejoe, Random_person, leakingpen, cho_j

    GolemsVoice (2 critiques)
    "The Dream-Singer", 9/12/09, Classic Weird Tale
    Critiques: Mr.Silver, Tequila Sunrise, Helanna, Kallisti, Milo v3

    Helanna (9 critiques)

    jayeljay (0 critiques)

    JessGulbranson (6 critiques)
    "The Tiger-man", 8/19/10
    Critiques: Random_person

    Jimor (3 critiques)

    Kallisti (8 critiques)

    leakingpen (2 critiques)

    Lioness (1 critique)

    Lord Raziere (3 critiques)

    Milo v3 (1 critique)

    Mordar (1 critique)

    Mr.Silver (6 critiques)

    Neon Knight (6 critiques)

    Psycho (1 critique)

    rakkoon (1 critique)

    Random_person (4 critiques)

    Raroy (2 critiques)

    RationalGoblin (0 critiques)

    Raz_Fox (9 critiques)

    RobotPerfomance (1 critique)

    RPGsr4me (3 critiques)

    Rutskarn (0 critiques)

    Savannah (2 critiques)

    Silence (3 critiques)

    Tequila Sunrise (7 critiques)
    "Onami’s Greeting", 8/31/09, Fantasy Poetry
    Critiques: Jimor, Helanna, Raz_Fox, thurge namor, Kallisti, Lioness, changingvamp
    "Onami’s Legend", 1/3/10, Fantasy Poetry
    Critiques: Zom B, cho_j

    Teutonic Knight (1 critique)

    The Fiery Tower (3 critiques)

    The_JJ (3 critiques)

    The Pressman (1 critique)

    thurge namor (7 critiques)

    Tira-chan (7 critiques)

    waterpenguin43 (3 critiques)

    Zolkabro (5 critiques)

    Zom B (3 critiques)
    Last edited by Jimor; 2011-02-22 at 09:43 AM.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Critique Tips, Advice, and Resources.

    Resources:

    Critters Writers Workshop
    This is the workshop I roughly modeled this thread on. If you're looking for a more structured workshop experience for science fiction/fantasy/horror, this might be a good place to start.

    Critters Resource Page
    This is their specific page that has further links to other workshops, article on writing and critiquing, and many other useful sites for writers.

    Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
    Good articles around the site about the business and craft of writing.

    Writer Beware
    A subsection of SFWA's site that has tons of great information about protecting yourself as a writer against scams and other dubious services that are out there preying on authors.

    Advice:

    Mr.Silver on Constructive Criticism
    Spoiler
    Show

    For writers looking for feedback, this is what they need. A fairly in-depth examination of the work covering both its successes and its failings. Contrary to what some people may tell you, good criticism requires a fair amount of effort. Just expressing an opinion - "I like this, it's awesome"/"This sucks" - while it is technically feedback is not helpful. When it comes to providing good criticism it is vital that you explain what works and what doesn't work and useful to explain why the areas do or do not. This however requires thought and effort on your part as a critic and can also take up a fair amount of time. To make things a little easier, I have some suggested pointers beyond simply putting more in than an unqualified 'This is great/this sucks' remark (just don't do this).

    1. Don't gloss over flaws. This is a common problem in these types of circles. As most of you are amateur writers yourselves you know writing well is difficult and its easy to feel sorry for someone who's having their work shot to pieces on the metaphorical firing line. Because of this, there is always the temptation to hold back, a little voice in your head that says "yeah, this part isn't too good, but he/she is obviously trying, just look at this part over here. Let's praise that instead." Do not fall into this trap. Identifying flaws and suggesting methods of dealing with them is a vital part of feedback. For a writer to improve they need to know where their weaknesses lie and how to combat them. If you see a problem don't skip over it. It may seem a little harsh but trust me, when your turn comes you'll be glad of it. That said however...

    2. Don't obsess on the negativity. Remember, a minor flaw is just that: minor. Spelling and grammatical errors for instance should not be your biggest area of focus (unless they're particularly frequent). If a work is positive overall make sure to emphasise that. If something works well say so, encouragement is important for anyone pursuing a creative endeavour. While it won't show them where they need to go, it will give them the drive to keep going and get better.

    3. Be aware of your personal preferences. Let's face it, a fair amount of enjoyment of a work is subjective. Some genres, characters, plots and story hooks just aren't going to be enjoyable for you even if the writing is near flawless. Hell, you might even just find a particular writing style irritating. This is something you need to keep in mind at all times. Objective mistakes are easy enough to spot, but as you start getting more into the subtleties you need to ask yourself whether a problem you have is the result of a failing on the writer's part or if it's simply down to different tastes. This is a difficult area to give guidelines for, as everyone is going to be different in this regard. Just try and keep this in mind where you can, although if you think something genuinely isn't working then say so.

    4. Don't make it personal. Nobody wants a fanboy, nobody likes a jerk. Keep personal comments out of it and don't go overboard on the opinions; even if you still provide proper criticism as well.
    Last edited by Jimor; 2009-09-20 at 11:23 PM.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Helanna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Alright, we've got a writing workshop! Yay!

    It looks to me like you've pretty much covered most of the foreseeable events there, so that's good.

    However, I'd just like to stress the importance of good critiquing. Obviously, remember that just you should never just say "This was good/bad". It's more than alright to express a negative opinion, but make sure you point out why it's good or bad - "This story had very good characters. They acted realistically, had realistic motives, and were never out of character" is good, as is "The dialogue in this piece wasn't very good, it felt stilted and unnatural, for examples in lines 6, 33, and 90 . . .". However, just stating "This is good" is unhelpful and wastes time and space, and just saying "This was bad" can be considered flaming if you don't give reasons, so be careful.

    Also, a question: Is it alright to post off-site links to stories posted elsewhere? For example, could I link to a story on my Fictionpress account, or should I re-post it here?
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Maybe there should be prompts on a weekly or monthly basis, to encourage thread activity and generally inspire people. It'll be like the Iron Author contest, but probably it'll attract more traffic because it doesn't run on sign-ups and time limits.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    @Death Dragon: Yes, giving a good critique takes some effort and there are lots of good tips on improving them, which is why I set aside one of the opening posts to expand on that subject. Not only what I may have to say on the subject, but anybody else here, too, as well as links to outside resources that give various techniques and advice.

    I'll say repost them here for now, just because I want to make it easy for people to do it all right here. Once it gets going, if we know enough people will follow links like that, we'll make that an option (which might also work for banned topics, but again, I want to see how it works all right here first).

    @rubakhin: A good idea. Let's see what activity we get as is, but that's definitely a good way to jumpstart things if a lull develops. Hopefully, this also develops a pool of writers who will be interested whenever Iron Author starts up again.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    How do drafts work - three more critiques per next draft as well, I'm guessing?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    That's a very good question. I was thinking maybe just asking for 1 more critique in order to post a 2nd draft, but let's stick with 3 for each draft. This way we can still give full credit to anybody who critiques that story a 2nd time or more (you want that kind of followup from some of the same people) without dropping the average number of critiques that get spread around. If this needs adjusting later, that's totally doable.

    One of the weaknesses of this system is that some stories may receive a lot of comments, while others may get orphaned. If a story goes a while without getting any replies, I can award bonuses critiques to anybody who gives it some attention. Hopefully people will do that on their own (I'll add post dates to the roster list of stories so it will be easy to spot orphans that have been waiting).
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    This is a great idea! Registering my interest as a story contributor and to offer critiques.

    My current embryonic project is 1500 words of first draft fantasy/science fiction story that I would appreciate a critique of after I've written a little more. I guess I should probably name it at some point too.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Very cool, looks forward to seeing it.

    I think it will take a little time for people to start adding their works to the thread, takes a bit of time to get works in progress ready, so everybody don't worry if things don't happen right away. If nothing gets going in a couple weeks, though, we'll try rubakhin's prompt idea.
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    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    I think this thread is a great idea so I'll contribute the first submission, a poem I wrote years ago about a character who I'd like to use for a longer work or for a game but haven't figured out how yet:

    Onami’s Greeting; Fantasy Poetry
    Spoiler
    Show
    There was once a great warrior, and his name was Onami.
    Onami told his countrymen:

    “Hands tell what is held in the heart.
    You were welcomed into this world by your mother’s hands,
    and fed by her hands until you could feed yourself.”


    “The gods are immortal, perfect and capable of anything.”

    “You were provided for by your father’s hands,
    and greeted by his hands when you became a man.


    “But we are greater than the Gods in one way.”

    “Our enemies will not show you their hands,
    for they will be grasping the sword that will kill you.”


    “We can live and accomplish great deeds despite our mortality,
    and that makes us greater than the Gods.”

    It is said that Onami’s first and last words to his countrymen were the same:
    “Those who wish to follow me to greatness, I welcome with my hands.”

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Excellent, our first victim participant!

    I added a bit to the first post about posting critiques in spoilers, and to post multiple critiques done at the same time in the same post. This is moreso for thread management, but some may also wish to come at a story fresh rather than being influenced by other critiques. Use common sense on spoilers during followup discussions -- if it talks more about writing or critique theory, then spoilers aren't needed.

    I'll edit in my own comments here a bit later when I get a chance.

    Critique: "Onami's Greeting" by Tequila Sunrise
    Spoiler
    Show

    I like it. Captures the feel of a legend very well in a short piece. I get the feel of a call and response almost like a liturgy.

    Something felt just a bit off, though, and it took me a bit to figure out what it might be. The alternating sections don't tie together very well. They each have their own progression that works well within itself, but to really be effective, they should should either have some kind of parallel development, or start on opposite sides and converge as they reach their final lines.

    Hmm, looking at it again, I take that back a bit, you do bring them together with the call to greatness (can you tell I flounder a bit when it comes to poetry? ). There's still something missing along those lines I think. Maybe relating the hands to the gods in the first 2 sets of lines?

    I'm mostly just trying to find something to give food for thought. Overall, it's still very well done and like I said, really give that epic atmosphere to the character, at least how he's seen by others. I'd definitely want to read more about how that legend came to pass.
    Last edited by Jimor; 2009-09-02 at 03:44 AM.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Question: What if we want critiques on multiple chapters of a story? Do they each count as an individual piece?
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Hey, the thread is moving! A bit! Yay!

    Critique: "Onami's Greeting" by Tequila Sunrise

    Spoiler
    Show
    Normally, I'm not one much for poetry, especially for free-form with no rhyme or rhythm. But I have to say I liked this poem very much.

    It definitely gives the impression of a LOT more background and culture than it actually contains. It gives the feeling of a tribal culture of some sort, and it mimics the style of an ancient legend very well.

    I liked the interspersed lines. The sudden change is mildly jarring at first but I think it works well, and it does tie into the whole 'hands' and 'greatness' thing pretty smoothly.

    The only minor complaint I'd have is that the interspersed lines read "But we are greater than the Gods in one way. We can live and accomplish great deeds despite our mortality, and that makes us greater than the Gods.” It sounds fine when reading the entire poem but it seems a bit redundant when you read them alone. It's not necessarily bad or something that you should change, it's just an observation that you can do what you like with.

    Over all, it's definitely good! Do you have any actual backstory about what Onami did, or is he just mentioned in this poem?
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimor View Post
    @Death Dragon: Yes, giving a good critique takes some effort and there are lots of good tips on improving them, which is why I set aside one of the opening posts to expand on that subject. Not only what I may have to say on the subject, but anybody else here, too, as well as links to outside resources that give various techniques and advice.
    Since I don't really care for poetry enough to give much input on TS' piece, I guess I'll give some guidelines.

    Constructive Criticism
    For writers looking for feedback, this is what they need. A fairly in-depth examination of the work covering both its successes and its failings. Contrary to what some people may tell you, good criticism requires a fair amount of effort. Just expressing an opinion - "I like this, it's awesome"/"This sucks" - while it is technically feedback is not helpful. When it comes to providing good criticism it is vital that you explain what works and what doesn't work and useful to explain why the areas do or do not. This however requires thought and effort on your part as a critic and can also take up a fair amount of time. To make things a little easier, I have some suggested pointers beyond simply putting more in than an unqualified 'This is great/this sucks' remark (just don't do this).

    1. Don't gloss over flaws. This is a common problem in these types of circles. As most of you are amateur writers yourselves you know writing well is difficult and its easy to feel sorry for someone who's having their work shot to pieces on the metaphorical firing line. Because of this, there is always the temptation to hold back, a little voice in your head that says "yeah, this part isn't too good, but he/she is obviously trying, just look at this part over here. Let's priase that instead." [u]Do not fall into this trap[/i]. Indentifying flaws and suggesting methods of dealing with them is a vital part of feedback. For a writer to improve they need to know where their weaknesses lie and how to combat them. If you see a problem don't skip over it. It may seem a little harsh but trust me, when your turn comes you'l be glad of it. That said however...

    2. Don't obsess on the negativity. Remember, a minor flaw is just that: minor. Spelling and grammitical errors for instance should not be your biggest area of focus (unless they're particularly frequent). If a work is positive overall make sure to emphasise that. If something works well say so, encouragement is emportant for anyone pursuing a creative endevour. While it won't show them where they need to go, it will give them the drive to keep going and get better.

    3. Be aware of your personal preferences. Let's face it, a fair amount of enjoyment of a work is subjective. Some genres, characters, plots and story hooks just aren't going to be enjoyable for you even if the writing is near flawless. Hell, you might even just find a particular writing style irritation. This is something you need to keep in mind at all times. Objective mistakes are easy enough to spot, but as you start getting more into the subtleties you need to ask yourself whether a problem you have is the result of a failing on the writer's part or if it's simply down to different tastes. This is a difficult area to give guidelines for, as everyone is going to be different in this regard. Just try and keep this in mind where you can, although if you think something genuinely isn't working then say so.

    4. Don't make it personal. Nobody wants a fanboy, nobody likes a jerk. Keep personal comments out of it and don't go overboard on the opinions; even if you still provide proper criticism as well.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by jayeljay View Post
    Question: What if we want critiques on multiple chapters of a story? Do they each count as an individual piece?
    Another very excellent question.

    My initial ruling is that for multiple chapters, whatever will fit in a single post. There's I think a 50,000 character limit, which is roughly 8,000 words. That's a fairly long story's worth of material, maybe 2 long chapters, or as many as 10 short chapters. However, if somebody has a complete short story that is too long for one post, that still counts as one submission.

    Like everything else, if we need to adjust this later, we will. As things settle in, I'll be sure to rewrite the first post to include these clarifications.

    In the meantime, I've updated the roster to note Death Dragon's critique, and I've put Mr. Silver's excellent advice in the Tips post.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Thanks to Jimor and Death Dragon for the critiques; I'm glad you like my unusual style. Hopefully I'll be able to return the favor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Death Dragon View Post
    Critique: "Onami's Greeting" by Tequila Sunrise

    Over all, it's definitely good! Do you have any actual backstory about what Onami did, or is he just mentioned in this poem?
    All I have is one and a half other poems about Onami. Ultimately, I think it'd be cool to have a collection of short poems about Onami; it would create a sort of fractured overview of his legendary life. Maybe after this thread gets moving, I won't feel bad about posting more Onami works for critique.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    jayeljay's Avatar

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    Jul 2009

    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Well, here we go. I posted this in it's own topic, which panned out about as well as I expected. This looks like a better idea anyway.

    I'll try to get some critiques up for those poems in a few days. I also have a book to suggest to people just learning to write fiction.

    As for what I am wanting feedback on, I'll pretty much take what I can get. Anything you an point out that needs work is helpful. ^_^

    Neko Tails:

    Introduction
    Spoiler
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    We all know the difference between fantasy and reality, don’t we? Those things we can see, hear, touch, smell, taste; those are real, of course. Reality is what we see before us, and what we discover to be fact, even if hidden from our human senses. Despite how much it surrounds us, however, reality can be quite boring. Our vast universe, made up of tiny particles, made of tinier particles still is slowly losing its mystery to us. We have learned that the lights streaking across the night sky are not falling stars, but instead chunks of rock, superheated as they speed through our planet’s atmosphere. The sun does not rotate around the earth, nor is the earth a flat plane. Instead, the earth, as with all planets, rotates around the sun. These things are real, and are proven fact. No one disputes this, and why should they? Our scientific method has shown that they are true beyond any shadow of doubt.

    We know what fantasy is, too, of course. Fantasy consists of those things which are not real, which we have conceived with our own imaginations, which cannot be experienced with our human senses. Santa Claus, the jolly robust man of old, is fantasy. No one has ever found anything resembling a workshop or long-term living conditions at the North Pole. Furthermore, not only have reindeer never been seen to take flight, a dissection of the animal would show that it is quite incapable of being anything but earthbound. Ghosts and spirits are fantasy as well, or our world would be run amok with souls of the undead by now. Fairy tales and myths of old are likewise fantasy, as they contain creatures and places, such as dragons, centaurs, Camelot and Atlantis, which are totally unknown to zoology or geology. Our incredible minds allow us to escape the boredom of reality, and find pleasure in things that do not exist, and that we control.

    But what if there is more to fantasy? What if, without our knowing it, countless interactions with those things we deem as fantasy, unreal, or imaginary happened regularly, every day even? What if some of those falling stars were something other than space rock, something fantastical? What if Santa Claus actually was real and we had just been looking in the wrong place? What if, countless generations ago, we humans lived among centaurs, dragons, and countless other ‘imaginary’ races? What if some of our legends and myths held far more footing in the grounds of fiction than we care to admit? What if fantasy wasn’t fantasy at all?

    The following is the story of a girl, who, through a strange number of coincidences on her 18th birthday, was thrust unexpectedly into the world of the fantastic. Despite your current conceptions, the following takes place in reality. Which reality, which ‘earth,’ however, is not specified, nor is the exact time period in relation to your own explicitly stated, but I digress. Allow me to bid you a fond voyage into the narrative about to unfold. Whether you, the reader, treat it as the chronicle of actual events that it is, or as a fanciful narrative for your personal entertainment, do read on, and, if I may be so bold, allow me to welcome you, to these Neko Tails.

    Prologue
    Spoiler
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    “Well, that about covers everything involving our resident ‘psychic.’” Dr. Samuel Marcus said with a strong sarcastic overtone to his voice, showing his obvious disbelief in the young man’s ‘powers.’ “If you will be so kind as to follow me, Miss Stevens, I would be happy to show you to the last of our patients.”

    “Of course, and I must thank you once more for allow me such complete access to your clinic.” Miss Stevens said. This was her first big interview, and she was trying her best to not mess it up.

    The Marcus Clinic is well known for catering to people who claim to exhibit super-human capabilities and powers. Dr. Marcus has had renowned success in rehabilitating these poor delusional souls, allowing them to re-enter society at large, able to carry on normal lives without the burden of their delusions. For those that are unwilling or unable to respond to treatment, the clinic has on sight round the clock care, tending to their physical, as well as mental health. Countless donations are sent in from around the world every year to help fund this righteous cause.

    Miss Stevens looked over her notes again, not wanting to forget to ask the elusive Dr. Marcus a thing. He rarely gave interviews, due to his busy schedule, and even now, he was only speaking to her while he made his daily rounds.

    “So,” She began. “Are the rumors that some of the patients kept long term in your clinic actually exhibit true superhuman abilities?” She asked, holding her tape recorder over to allow him to speak into it.

    Dr. Marcus took a moment to answer, waiting until they had passed through a security threshold to respond. “To be perfectly honest with you, yes, almost all of our long term patients actually do exhibit met human abilities or traits of some form or another.” He stated quite matter-of-factly.

    Miss Stevens blinked, taken aback by the response. After a moment or two, an uncomfortable chuckle came from her lips. “Surely you must be joking Dr. Things such as that only occur in the movies.”

    Dr. Marcus smiled a strangely sweet smile. “I am afraid that the lines between reality and fantasy have been blurred for some time, Miss Stevens. Yes, as the rumors suggest, almost all of our long term patients staying with us are actually super humans, or metahumans as I prefer, as it covers a broader group of people. Take for instance the girl in room 13B.” He said, gesturing to a black and white monitor set over the door to that very room.

    Miss Stevens looked up at the monitor. It displayed a slightly grainy image of a sparkly decorated room, containing only a simple cot, a sink, and a toilet. On the cot lay what at first glance someone would mistake for a young adult female, maybe 5’ 4” tall, with a slim build and shoulder length brunette hair. On closer inspection however a tail could be seen to twitching behind her occasionally as she slept on the cot, and two pointed ears rose from her hair, positioned on the top of her head.

    “Those are prosthetic…right?” Miss Stevens asked softly, as she watched the monitor.

    “Quite the contrary Miss Stevens.” Dr. Marcus began. “The tail and ears you see there are very much a part of her. Oh, she prefers to go by the name Serenade, by the way.” He mentioned to Miss Stevens, who only nodded slightly, her eyes fixated upon the monitor above the door.

    Dr. Marcus continued without skipping a beat. “What you cannot pick up via the monitor are whiskers on her upper lip, and the claws on her hands and feet.”

    “Claws?” She asked, turning her gaze from the monitor finally to look at Dr. Marcus.

    “Yes, claws indeed. The nails on her digits grow to a natural sharpened hook-shaped point, and occasionally have to be filed down. Clipping is not an option, as she claws are far too hard to cut without pinching the nerves painfully, and we have opted against declawing, for humane reasons of course, I assure you, though she does wail and mewl when they are filed down.” He said with that same sickeningly sweet smile from before.

    “Why do the need to be filed down, she’s not a threat is she?” Miss Stevens asked, mostly on instinct, unable to fully grasp what she was hearing and seeing.

    “Well, no, not really I suppose, but we do not want to take risks. The wailing is mostly from her dislike of her claws losing their sharpness; her instincts prefer them to be sharp.”

    “Instincts? But, she’s a human, not an animal; you can’t treat her like that!” Miss Stevens stated, her voice beginning to rise. The situation presented to her, coupled with his relative calmness at what was going on were working together to really unnerve her.

    “No, she is not an animal. But she is not a human either. She is a perfect blending of both human and feline characteristics, taking the best parts of both species. Actually, she is more human than cat, so I feel a proper species name for her would be Homo catus, though some of my colleagues feel she falls more under a subspecies, and should be classified as Homo sapien catus.” He said with a shrug. “Some others see her as nothing but a genetic mutation of the species. The debate is ongoing.”

    Miss Stevens was shocked at what she was hearing, and it took her a few moments to pull herself together and give a proper response. “You talk about her like she is some experiment, or a lab rat, when she is fully self-aware! What about her family, do they know the conditions she lives in?!” She asked, fully aware that her tape recorder was still rolling, and this was all being recorded. Her story didn’t matter anymore, what mattered now was getting this girl, and however many others were here, out and back home where they belonged.

    “Her parents are kept informed her their dear daughter’s progress as we work to free her from her self delusion that she is a catgirl.” Dr. Marcus replied, obviously meaning that they were kept in the dark as to what was really going on. “They are of course kept from seeing her until such time as she shows significant progress, as she has been known to lash out against those who refuse to treat her as the catgirl she sees herself as.”

    “That’s a load of bull.” Miss Stevens replied sternly, crossing her arms over her chest. “Just how many people are kept here without their parents knowing the truth? And just how long have you kept her here?”

    “I’m afraid I cannot give you an exact number, but I believe it is somewhere around 50 to 70. Some of my patients are being transferred to a second facility I have recently constructed for long term patient care.” He replied. “As for Serenade, she has been here for nearly a year and a half. In fact, it will be exactly that long next Tuesday, which happens to be her 18th birthday as well.”

    Miss Stevens pulled a water bottle from her purse, drinking long and slow from it, as her mouth and throat had gotten dry from the shock. Slipping it back into her purse, she continued. “What do you think gives you the right to hold perfectly sane individuals for no other reason than having unique genetics for seemingly limitless periods of time?” She asked, having finally regained her composure. She did find it odd that he was being so open about all he was doing, but decided it must be from his insanity, plain and simple.

    “Miss Stevens, are you familiar with the concept of Natural Selection?” Dr. Marcus asked.

    Miss Stevens nodded slowly. “Yes, though I do not see what it has to do with the current situation. She has every right to live her life without being under your watch every waking moment.”

    Dr. Marcus sighed, shaking his head. “Allow me to explain, as it seems you do not fully grasp the concept. The law of natural selection states that with breeding over the long term, preferable traits will take the place of less desirable ones. Over time, this will cause one species to evolve into another, and, in some cases, causes the original species to be left extinct, unable to compete with the newer species for food and territory, as it has more desirable traits, and is better adapted than the original.”

    He turned his attention to the monitor now. “You say she is not a threat, however, I beg to differ. No, she may not attack anyone physically, but she carries within her the equivalent of a genetic doomsday device. Should she or any of the other metahuman detainees be allowed to propagate, the resulting offspring would have a clear-cut genetic advantage over normal Homo sapiens. Over time, the entire human species could become wiped out.” Dr. Marcus said, crossing his arms over his chest.

    “How can a tail, cat ears, and claws spell the end of the human race?” Miss Stevens asked, bewildered.

    “Those traits you mention are merely the visible ones. What you cannot see is her metabolism is greater than that of the average human, requiring a much higher intake in calories per day to maintain her ideal body mass. Add to that a higher lung capacity, enhanced strength and agility, and an acute since of smell, and the dangers become much clearer I do believe. Imagine the strain on the world’s food supply her descendants might cause? Or, what if they chose to take control of the government by brute force? No, I cannot take the risk that these things might occur. It would be better for all of humanity that she remains here for the rest of her natural life.” He said, his voice full of determination.

    “It’s too bad for you that won’t be happening.” Miss Stevens said, turning to face Dr. Marcus. “Once my story goes to print, this entire mad scheme of yours is going to come crashing down.”

    Dr. Marcus smiled. “And what makes you think anyone will believe you?”

    Miss Stevens narrowed her eyes. “Did you forget I have been recording this entire conversation?” She asked, holding out her tape recorder once more. She reached into her purse with her other hand, and pulled out a cell phone. “And if you try to stop me from leaving with this, I swear I’ll call the police.”

    Dr. Marcus could not help himself, and chuckled lightly. “I believe there is one problem with your plan. Check your recording, and your cell phone, closely.”

    Miss Stevens narrowed her eyes, but decided to check anyway, certain of what she had. She was shocked when, instead of what she expected, she found her tape to be completely blank, even after fast forwarding and rewinding to multiple time spots, she still could get nothing but the occasional garbled tone. Furthermore, her cell phone seemed to have stopped working as well. “What…but I…” She stammered, at a loss for words.

    “The security checkpoint we passed through into this area contains a high power magnet, able to terminate most unprotected electronic devices, and magnetic recording tape. It tends to be a necessary feature I am afraid, no reporter ever understands the deep value in what we are doing.”

    “Value, VALUE?!” Miss Stevens spat. “You lock people up for no reason other than imagined possible outcomes to letting them live their lives in peace, and you call it valuable?! What kind of sick twisted freak are you!?”

    “The point, Miss Stevens, is that I am not a freak, I am human.” Dr. Marcus said rather calmly as he pressed a button on the nearby wall to send for a group of guards. “If we as a species do not watch out for ourselves, we will be trodden over by more adaptable species, and I for one will not see that happen. For the future of the human race, some sacrifices must be made.” He said somberly, as the guards arrived. “You can leave peacefully now under their escort, or the guards can take you out by force, the choice is yours.” He said.

    Miss Stevens narrowed her eyes at the monster before her. “You can rest assured this isn’t over. I still know what is going on here, and I’ll find someone to listen to me.”

    “You would do well to simply publish your article saying how wonderful this place is, rather than trying to cause me grief.” Dr. Marcus cautioned, as she was escorted away. He stood there, looking up at the screen for a few minutes, noting the twitch in her tail, and the flicking of her ears. “She seems to be going into heat again.” He noted aloud to no one other than himself. He narrowed his eyes slightly. “Maybe there is a way to take care of that problem, and to allow you to return home to your family after all.” He noted softly, before turning around and walking away from the door.

    The young woman on the cot wrinkled her nose slightly, her ears going back a bit, as she shifted uncomfortably in her sleep, as though she were suddenly bothered by something.

    Chapter 1
    Spoiler
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    "Notgoodnotgoodnotgoodnotgood!!" Serenade exclaimed as she ran at a full sprint down the halls of the clinic, several guards in pursuit. She still wasn’t sure exactly how they had forgotten to lock her cell, but she had no intention of going back in without a fight. She shrieked as several bullets whizzed passed her, quickly rounding a corner into an empty hall and ducking into one of the ventilation ducts, which was open for repairs, pulling the grate closed behind her. The guards soon reached the hall, and, not seeing her, continued on their way, splitting up to cover more ground in their search. She sighed softly; glad that, for now, she could rest, and try to make sense of how the day had gone so far.

    ~~

    It had begun just as most of her days did, as she was roused unceremoniously from bed at 5 AM, and led to the showers. Stripped of her clothing, her wrists were cuffed and hooked above her head, to prevent her from using her claws. Like most felines, she did not care for water, and would become quite agitated when forcibly exposed to it. She was thankful that at least her bathers were female, and always had been, grateful for the small human decency it granted her. Once washed, her claws were inspected for sharpness, and, on a normal day, she was dressed and returned to her cell for breakfast, which was quite large and of very high quality, often consisting of large cuts of meat, whole grain carbs, and a multitude of various vegetables. As a result, she had grown quite healthy during her stay, even though the enjoyment factor was next to none.

    Today, however, she found herself carted off to see Dr. Marcus in one of the examination rooms. This immediately struck her as out of the ordinary, as, normally he came in to her room, backed by two guards, to check on her vitals, take blood samples, check her reflexes, and take detailed measurements of her body's weight, height, and various measurements of her body, including her arm, leg, hip, waist, and bust circumferences, among others. Once a week she was taken to a gym of sorts, and run through various exercises to test her speed, strength, flexibility, and agility, which were closely monitored for signs of change.

    She sat quietly in the room, dressed in a simple pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Thick padded gloves covered her cuffed hands, and thick socks covered her feet, preventing any chance of her using her claws, however dull, as weapons. Her heartbeat hastened as she heard footsteps outside of the door, which soon opened as Dr. Marcus stepped inside.

    “Yes, hello Serenade, and how are you today?” He said cheerily as he came inside.

    He was met with a low growl from Serenade, her tail flicking slightly behind her in agitation. “Cut the crap, what’s going on? You haven’t brought me into an examination room often, and even when you do, it’s always one of those in back, where you keep the sedatives on hand and ready.”

    “Charming as always,” He noted dryly, as he took a seat across the room from her. “There’s actually a good reason for us meeting here today. I am planning on releasing you.”

    Serenade gasped at hearing that. “What? But…why…how…after all this time…”

    Dr. Marcus smiled. “What? Do you want to stay? I’m sure we can find a place to keep you in here, kitten.”

    Serenade narrowed her eyes. “Don’t call me that. I never said I wanted to stay, you just caught me off guard,” She said sternly, though inside herself she was shaking like a leaf. “Why? Why now, what’s the catch?”

    Dr. Marcus steepled his fingers as he began to speak, “Over the past few months we have noticed your body beginning to level out. Your speed, agility, flexibility are no longer increasing, and have seemingly stabilized at their current levels. The same can be said for your body mass and size. To put it simply, you are at the peek of physical condition, keeping in mind you are a subspecies of course.”

    Serenade growled lightly at the comment, but continued to listen, intrigued as to what all of this had to do with her being released. “Go on…”

    “That, coupled with the data we have collected on you over the past year and a half has led me to conclude that, for the most part, you are no longer of any use to us. This clinic is for research as well as treatment, and you are neither curable, nor can you provide us with any further useful data we do not already have.”

    Serenade sighed a long sigh. “So I finally get to go home,” She said, sounding like a heavy load had just been lifted from her shoulders. Her relief did not last long, as Dr. Marcus laughed loudly, for no apparent reason. “What the…what’s so funny?” She asked.

    “You, kitten, will not be going home. You are far to great a risk to our species as a whole to be allowed to roam free. As a result, you will be sent to a facility we just completed in the Pacific Ocean. It is a privately owned artificial island, much like a drilling platform. It contains numerous habitats for the various subspecies we currently house here in the clinic, including you. I took personal care in creating your habitat, ensuring you would have plenty to keep yourself entertained, including a bedroom like your at home. It will be quite a step up from your…current accommodations,” He said, his smile turning sickeningly sweet.

    Serenade blinked, unable to respond for a few moments, taken aback by what she was hearing. “You mean…you…you are going to put me in a frakkin zoo?!” She shrieked.

    “You could look at it that way, yes,” Dr. Marcus replied with a nod. “However, I see it more as putting you into a prime environment for your physical capabilities. You are more physically capable than most adult human males, and will need plenty of room to work off your excess energy. I even believe you may begin to show even more physical improvement after we have moved you there.”

    “You can’t do this, I’m not an animal!” She hissed, fighting her bonds.

    “No, of course you aren’t. You aren’t human either. What you are is a unique genetic anomaly that cannot be allowed to contaminate the gene pool,” He said solemnly, a stern look on his face.

    Something about that look caused the hair on the back of Serenade’s neck to stand on end. “What…what are you saying?”

    “I am saying that, so long as it is within my power to do so, I will never allow you to have the chance to reproduce, by choice or not. The offspring would carry your genetic enhancements, and, within the course of a century, your kind might pose a threat to the very existence of the human race as we know it today, simply by genetic contamination.”

    Serenade shivered. “You can’t keep an eye on me all the time, even in a zoo,” She said softly, having learned long ago that fighting back usually ended up with her in a straight jacket and gagged.

    “I know. That is why I have scheduled you for a total hysterectomy this evening,” He replied.

    “A what?” Serenade asked, bewildered. Her education had not continued since coming to the clinic, so she was behind on some things.

    Dr. Marcus sighed, shaking his head. “Did you ever have a pet Serenade? Say for instance a cat or a dog?”

    Serenade nodded slowly. “Yes, I had a cat. I haven’t seen her since you locked me up here though,” She scowled.

    He paid no mind to her elaboration, and continued. “Well, have you ever heard of getting a cat fixed? In the case of a female, she would be spayed.”

    “Yes, I know what that is. That is…where…they…” Serenade grew silent as realization of her fate began to wash over her. “No…you can’t…that…that’s sick!”

    “I will do what I must to ensure the survival of our species,” Dr. Marcus said as he stood to leave the room. “You have nothing to worry about, you won’t even notice a change. You may feel sluggish for a few days to a week, but you will soon be back on your feet.”

    Serenade silently cringed as she watched him leave. She didn’t even attempt to argue with him, as she would get further talking to a brick wall. She struggled in her bonds, trying desperately to break free, even as the guards had taken her back to her cell, tears flowing down her cheeks, leaving wet spots all on her t-shirt.

    ~~

    Serenade’s mind was brought suddenly back to the task at hand as she noticed a pair of guards had slowed down, having heard her, and looking around. She quickly and quietly drew back into the shadows, holding her breath as they investigated the air duct. The moments hung like hours to her as she waited, hoping desperately that they would not find her. Satisfied after a few moments, the guards stood upright once more, and began to talk.

    “So, what idiot left her cell door unlocked, anyway?” One said to the other.

    “I hear it was Paulson. That bastard needs to learn to pay attention to what he is doing. He was cleaning his gun in the break room the other day, but forgot to unload it. Damn near shot me in the head, the crazy fool.”

    The first guard chuckled. “Yeah, the Doc is going to have his hide for this one though. I doubt he gets transferred to the ‘Zoo.’”

    “Same here. Say, have you gotten your transfer paperwork in? I hear that this new place the Doc is opening up is going to have a ton of cushy jobs.”

    Serenade could see the first guard shuffling around on his feet. “Yeah…well, I’m not so sure I want to be a part of that. I mean, yeah, the detainees aren’t human…but they are still people.”

    The other guard laughed. “Oh come on, it’s not like we abuse them. The Doc would be hysterical if we did anyway, and start rambling on about some efforts to preserve the species of some other scientific jargon crap like that,” He said.

    “Yeah…ok, you have a point. And we do know that some of them are too dangerous to let loose, like that hulking woolly mammoth hybrid, or that girl with heat vision,” He sighed.

    “Now you are talking some sense. Most of these, like that cat chick, I don’t see why the Doc doesn’t just let them go home. But the rest, those that actually pose a threat, heck, I’m all for keeping them under lock and key.”

    “Maybe. I’m still starting to have second thoughts about all this. I mean look at us. We’re walking around loaded to the gills, looking for one girl with a cat tail and cat ears. Doesn’t that strike you as off?”

    “What strikes me as off is that you never seem to care too much about them when you are getting that fat paycheck the Doc gives us to work here,” The other guard replied coldly.

    “Yeah, well, I have a family to look after, and bills to pay,” The guard replied softly.

    The other guard chuckled. “Just keep doing your job and let the Doc worry about the moral implications. Come on, we better get back to searching for her before we get reported for loitering on duty,” The other guard replied, before the two walked off.

    Serenade finally let out a deep breath she had been holding for the last minute or so, breathing deeply to fill her lungs. It was true what the guards had said; they were not abused. But even then, they were not treated right. Pulling herself back up, after having finally caught her breath, she began to crawl through the ductwork, hoping to find a way out of the building. As she moved through the dusty ductwork, her thoughts began to travel back, to a happier time. Back to before she had ever heard of the clinic, before she met Dr. Marcus.

    ~~

    Serenade was born in a small suburb on the outskirts of New York, with the birth name Katherine Lucinda Auron. A few days after being brought home, her mother was singing to her while rocking her to sleep. This failed utterly as the young child began to coo and gurgle back to her mother. Chuckling, her parents said she was serenading them, and so they began to call her Serenade as a bit of a nickname.

    Serenade was a very active and energetic young child, whose fast development shocked both her pediatrician and parents. By three months she was able to walk upright, by four months, she was running, and by six months of age, she had already begun to speak gibberish, the occasional word slipping out here and there. Her accelerated development soon slowed to a normal pace, however, much to the relief of her parents and pediatrician.

    As she grew, she remained incredibly energetic, and increasingly mischievous, much like the cats she became so fond of. In school she showed an advanced ability for learning, but shyly chose to remain out of advanced classes, preferring to stay in normal level classes with her friends. By seven years old, her parents decided she was old enough for a little responsibility, and was given a pet, a young black female kitten with white tufts of fur on it’s paws, nose, and tip of it’s tail, which she named Melinda. The young girl seemed to connect with the kitten on some level, and soon the two were almost always seen together. They even seemed to understand each other, Melinda staying away and quiet while Serenade would work on her homework, or Serenade seemingly knowing where Melinda was for no apparent reason, especially when she was getting into trouble.

    By twelve, Serenade’s energy and stamina were too boundless for her teachers to deal with, and her parents sought another outlet for their little girl, something that might also calm her down. Serenade was soon enrolled in softball, track, and an after school karate course, all of which she excelled at. She found an extra interest in karate, however, after she discovered anime and manga, enthralled by the Japanese animation and graphic novels. Soon after, her friends introduced her to video games as well. Her parents were worried for a little while that her schoolwork and physical education might suffer, due to all the horror stories they had heard, but careful monitoring proved that, while enjoying her newfound entertainment, Serenade always made time for her studies and other activates.

    By fifteen, she had given up track and softball, opting instead to focus more attention on Karate. She soon had earned her black belt, but by then had already moved on to practicing Judo, and had begun to research Taijutsu in her free time. Secretly, she also began to practice the art of kendo, the art of Japanese sword fighting, after her Judo classes with her sensei. It was during one of these sessions that she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her back and head, collapsing to the mat, unconscious.

    She was rushed to the hospital, the cause of her unconsciousness unknown. Even after several batches of tests, still no answer became apparent as to what had caused the sudden loss of consciousness. She remained in a coma for the next week. When she finally awoke, she seemed to be perfectly fine. After a few more days in the hospital, she was allowed to go home, though she was asked to cut back on her physical activity for a few weeks, to avoid a repeat of whatever had happened.

    Several months passed, and Serenade’s parents began to notice some changes in their daughter. Her appetite began to change, turning more towards meat and fish, whereas before she had loved sweets devoutly. Where before she enjoyed swimming, suddenly even getting her near the pool became almost impossible, as a sudden loathing of being wet had overtaken her. At least she continued to take baths, though, now she would take the extra effort to use a hair drier over her entire body, getting rid of every last drop of moisture before getting dressed. Her attention span seemed to shorten slightly as well, the smallest of things catching her attention away from her homework from time to time.

    Confused, and worried, her parents sought psychiatric advice from a well-known scientist turned psychologist, Dr. Samuel Marcus. His small clinic specialized in unusual psychological phenomena, such as what the Auron’s were experiencing with their daughter. After speaking with her, and taking a few blood samples to see if there was a chemical imbalance, he informed them that there was currently no need to worry, and if anything changed to contact him immediately. The Auron’s, quite taken with his attention to detail and seeming care for their daughter, agreed.

    The months passed quickly, and Serenade’s condition remained sedentary. A few months turned into half a year, and a year into a year and a half. By now she had returned to her normal activities, and, for the most part, her parents worry subsided. Serenade was preparing for a Judo tournament, warming up and doing her stretches, when she felt a slight twinge on her head, and in her back again. Worried for a moment, she considered telling her parents, but before she could her name was called, as it was time for her match.

    As she walked up to the mat, she felt another twinge, but resolved to complete this match first, before telling her parents. The match began, and almost immediately Serenade began to feel her temperature rise, a cold chill running down her body, causing her to almost get caught by her opponent. She soon began to sway from side to side, and, after a few moments, could feel something swaying behind her, attached to her bottom. Glancing down, she caught sight of a tail, moments before fainting. When next she would awaken, her entire life would be turned upside down.

    Four days later, Serenade finally woke up, to concerned looks from her parents. Something seemed off in their looks, but she couldn’t place it. Finally, she asked what was going on, and they reluctantly showed her a mirror.

    The face that looked back at Serenade was familiar, but at the same time hauntingly new. Her ears were now pointed like a cat’s, and on the top of her head, rather than the sides, and were covered in soft black fur. Her eyes, while remaining blue, now had vertically slit irises. White whiskers had sprouted from her upper lip, and her canines had become slightly more pointed. Continued inspection of her body showed that her nails had grown longer, curling around like sharp hooks. Strangest of all, a black furred tail had sprouted just above her backside about two and a half feet long.

    Scared and confused, Serenade asked her parents what was going on. They sadly told her they had no idea, but that they had contacted Dr. Marcus, and he would be coming to gather her. At first she was opposed to the idea, but her parents calmed her slowly, explaining that this might be some disease or other malady that needed to be cured. After much consoling, Serenade agreed to go to Dr. Marcus’ clinic. Soon after arriving, she learned the exact terms of her stay, and how badly Dr. Marcus had suckered herself and her parents.

    ~~

    “Ouch!” Serenade exclaimed softly as she bumped her head on the top of the ductwork. She immediately clamped a hand over her mouth, and listened carefully, hoping no one had heard her. The moments past slowly until, finally, after a few minutes, she was assured that she had not given herself away, and continued.

    Stupid cramped ductwork. It’s never this small in the movies, I call that false advertising!" She thought grumpily to herself. She stopped a moment later, sniffing the air, her ears twitching. She thought she smelled…yes…wait, was that…yes, it was fresh air! She hurriedly followed it to its source, finally coming to a grate that opened into an alleyway next to the clinic. The alleyway was dark, the sun having gone down hours ago. Grunting, she forced the grate off of the duct, and hopped out, landing gracefully on all fours, her ears twitching this way and that as she looked around, wondering if she had been spotted.

    Ok, it looks all clear," She thought to herself; as she carefully pulled her tail around her waist, and pulled her t-shirt down to conceal it. Searching around in a nearby dumpster, she acquired an old baseball cap, which she quickly donned to cover her ears. Looking around once more, she stepped out of the alleyway, and began to walk away from the clinic. Before she had even walked to the end of the block, however, she noticed an old man in the middle of the road, dressed in a brown ratty cloak that concealed his appearance. She noted his odd look with a raised eyebrow, before realizing that a large transport truck was rushing down the road, and straight for the old man!

    Serenade didn’t take the time to think, she simply acted, rushing into the road and shoving the man out of the way, with enough momentum to cause them to both land on the sidewalk. The truck honked loudly as it passed, the driver yelling at them to stay out of the road, as he continued on his way.

    “Hey…you…you need to watch where you are going,” Serenade said, unsure of just what to call the man before her. “Here, let me help you up,” She said as she did so, not realizing her tail and ears had been revealed moments earlier.

    “I am fine,” The man said in a clearly old voice, pulling his cloak tightly around himself as he pulled himself up with his long wooden cane. “Tell me, what is your name child. I wish to know what to call the woman that saved my life tonight.”

    “I-I’m…” She bit her lip, afraid of telling anyone her name.

    “It’s quite alright child, they will not hear you, and I will not tell them I have seen you,” The old man said knowingly.

    “How did you…” Serenade’s voice drifted away as she wondered how this old man, whom she had never seen before in her life, had known about that. Had he been spying on her? Was she an associate of Dr. Marcus’? She took a few steps back as the thoughts continued to rush through her mind.

    “Now stop all of your worrying child, I would not associate myself with such a man as who has done such things to you. And what he has planned for you…” He shook his head in disgust.

    “Alright, spill it. How do you know so much?” Serenade asked, putting her hands on her hips.

    “Come with me child, let us speak for a moment.” He said, motioning her into a nearby alleyway. She followed, of course, her curiosity being hooked firmly on the bewildering man.

    After leading her away from any prying ears, he sat down on an old wooden box, sighing slightly as he stretched his back out. “Telepathy, child.”

    “Telepathy?” Serenade repeated back.

    “Yes, Telepathy. It is how I knew those things about you. I don’t normally come around here, but it has been so long, I thought I would see how the world has developed since I’ve been away. It certainly has grown a lot brighter, and noisier,” He mused aloud.

    “Um…” Serenade was at a loss for words, unsure how to respond.

    “Oh, forgive an old man, I ramble at times, child. Here, something for your help this evening,” He said, reaching into his cloak, and pulling out a small white card and offering it to her.

    Intrigued, she took it and looked it over. It was no larger than a poker card, and was solid white, save for a single red dot in the very middle.

    “Um…what is this?” Serenade asked, bewildered even more now.

    “Turn it over. I think that will answer your question,” He said, sounding excited.

    With a slight nod, she did so. On the other side was a small note, laid out like an advertisement of some sort. Across the top it said in large lettering: “The Magnificent Marcone,” Underneath, the ad continued: “This card grants its bearer to 1 wish. Whatever your heart’s desire may be, simply place your thumb, or equivalent digit, over the red dot on the other side. Speak aloud your desire in the form of a wish, and it will be granted. Should you want to discuss your wish with me more in depth, simply call out my name while placing your thumb, or equivalent digit, over the dot as in the previous manner. All wishes are non-refundable once granted. Void in some realms, and on some plains of mortal existence. Wishes made in such areas will not be granted, and will also not be lost. Wishes made that go against the morals of ‘The Magnificent Marcone’ will not be granted, and the wish will be voided.”

    Serenade stared at the card for what seemed like hours, but in reality it was only a few minutes, finally, she looked back towards the man. “Is this some kind of joke?” She said dryly.

    “No, no joke at all,” He replied. “I’ve seen his work, and he always delivers. He’s not the most powerful, nor is he willing to grant every wish, but he always tries to help people.”

    Serenade pursed her lips. “You expect me to believe I can just put my finger on this card, make a wish, ANY wish, and it will come true?!” She spat.

    “No, no I do not. Like I said, there are some wishes he will not grant. Take for instance the wish you are considering now. He won’t grant a wish to kill someone, even someone as bad as Dr. Marcus.

    Serenade opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off. “And before you tell me how magic isn’t real, and you do not believe in it, maybe you should remember I am reading your mind, and that you exhibit numerous catlike traits and mannerisms.”

    Serenade stood there for a few moments, her mouth hanging open. She couldn’t refute him, despite how badly she wanted to. What he said did make some sense, she could think of no other way he could read her mind. Even the ‘psychic’ that was kept in the clinic hadn’t been able to get into her mind, not that he was very skilled at getting into people’s minds anyway.

    “Ok,” She began slowly. “Let's say you aren’t crazy, and that this will work. Why would you give it to me?”

    “Because you need it,” He said simply. Something about the way he said it led her to believe that would be the only answer she would be getting.

    "Well, it’s better than nothing I suppose," She thought as she looked away a moment and slipped the card into her pocket. “Thanks I…guess?” She said, as she looked around for the man. He seemed to have vanished while she was looking away. “Now where did he go…” She thought for a moment, before hearing footsteps running towards her. Turning around, she saw two guards heading towards her slowly, weapons drawn. At the entrance to the alley, Dr. Marcus stood watching.

    “You really should not be out in the night air, Serenade. It is not healthy for you. Now please stop this foolishness, and come back inside, we have a surgery to perform,” He said sternly

    Serenade shook her head violently. “No way, I’m never going back, you can’t make me!” She yelled, as she turned, and took off down the alley.

    “That kitten is going to be the death of me,” Dr. Marcus muttered, then turned his attention to the guards. “This alley is a dead in with a high brick wall. Please go fetch her, and no roughing her up either, I do not like my patients injured before a delicate surgery,” He said sternly to the guards, to which they nodded, and started down the alley.

    Serenade continued running, fear and adrenaline pushing her to go faster. She rounded several corners, looking for a fire escape, or an exit, anything that could take her out of here before she was captured. Her hopes quickly turned to dismay as she rounded a final corner, and came face to face with a brick wall. Gritting her teeth, she tried to leap up and catch her hand on the top, to no avail. It was simply too tall.

    She could hear the guards getting closer and she needed a way out, fast. Her thoughts turned back to the card. Would it work? Would it save her from being dragged back to Dr. Marcus, from being turned into a zoo specimen? She had to take the chance; she had to try everything in her power to escape.

    As she withdrew the card from her pocket, the guards rounded the corner, training their guns on her. “Hands above your head!” One said, to which she immediately replied, shaking in fear like a leaf. Thankfully, she had the forethought to place her thumb over the card, which she now held firmly in her hand.

    “I...I wish...” She began softly.

    “What was that? Speak up!” The second guard said.

    “Doesn’t matter what she is saying, get some cuffs on her and lets get her back to the Doc,” The first guard said.

    Serenade shivered. This was it, she had to speak now, this had to work, or her life might as well be over.

    “I wish I was absolutely as far away from here as possible, by any means necessary!” She yelled at the top of her lungs. She looked around expectantly, but nothing happened. “N-no…” She said softly. All her hopes, her future itself, seemed to crumble, as she fell to her knees, letting the card go as her hands dropped to her sides. The card landed quietly in front of her.

    The first guard chuckled. “What were you expecting, someone to beam you out of here or some crazy **** like that?” He scoffed, and reached around to cuff her. He was unable to, however, as a glowing light blue bubble suddenly appeared into existence around her.

    “What…what the hell is this?” He shouted, banging on the bubble. He turned to the second guard. “Hey, go get the Doc, and hurry, something weird is going on!” The second guard ran off, as the first guard continued to bang on the bubble.

    “Huh?” Serenade exclaimed not comprehending what was going on at first, due to her sudden despair. “Hey…what is this?” She said, running her fingers around the surface of the bubble, Her eyes caught sight of the card lying at her knees. She gently picked it up, noting that the dot on its surface was now glowing brightly. She touched it, and drew her finger back, wincing slightly as it had burned her. The card dropped out of her hands, passing through the bubble as though it was not even there, landing just outside.

    A crackling like electricity caught her attention next, causing her to look up. Above her, a large swirling vortex had formed, like something out of a sci-fi movie. She looked up at it wordlessly, watching the occasional lighting bolt strike the ground around her. A stray bolt caught the guard, knocking him away from the bubble, and unconscious.

    Before Serenade had a chance to contemplate what might be happening, the bubble she was in began to rise, and move towards the vortex. “Huh…wait, nonono, I don’t want to go in the scary vortex, let me out of this bubble, I want to go home!” She screamed, as the bubble continued to defiantly travel upwards.

    Serenade whimpered, scratching at the bubble in hopes of popping it. “Come on, pop already, I don’t want to go in there, do you understand?!” She screamed. The bubble slowly passed into the swirling void, Serenade watching her world vanish slowly behind her. Once she was fully inside, the void closed, and she felt she was rushing forward at high speed. The g-forces were too great, however, and she fell unconscious, just as she saw a light coming into view ahead.

    ~~

    Dr. Marcus couldn’t believe what the guard had told him, and went to go see what was happening himself. He rounded the corner just moments after the vortex had closed. He looked about the alley, and, realizing that Serenade as nowhere to be found, cursed loudly in anger. He sighed, calming himself, and turned to leave, when he spied the card lying on the ground. Picking it up, he read the ad on it, and looked to the other side. Noticing it was blank; he started to toss it away, but stopped at the last second, pocketing it. This deserved further study, indeed.
    Credit to Elrond for avvy. ^_^

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Critique: "Neko Tales" by jayeljay

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    To start with, I don't really care for your introduction. I'm not a massive fan of introductions in written fiction anyway; they only really serve to delay the reader from getting to the core narrative. In a highly episodic TV series then yes, there may be some use for them. In this case though it's just padding. Very little of what you put here cannot be demonstrated just by reading the actual story and as a world-setting device it doesn't really work because it's incredibly drawn-out and doesn't even bother explaining what world it is. To be honest, it took quite a lot of effort to get through it, as I kept wanting to skip to the end. Bear in mind, you aren't dealing with anything like new themes here. The idea of there being 'more to the world then you might suspect' is incredibly common in fiction, Harry Potter being a name that imediately springs to mind that works on that exact premise. All children with working imaginations are capable of grasping the concept very easily, without anywhere near the amount of illustration you've given there and to anyone with anyone older it's just going to seem rather obvious.

    I'm sorry if this seems a little harsh, but I don't really see why this introduction is needed at all. It's not particularly entertaining either to be honest, you spend a lot of words listing huge strings of examples that really aren't needed at all. Consider that you open paragraph 2 saying that everyone knows what fantasy is. If this is indeed the case (which it is) then you do not need to spend an enitre paragraph explaining it. All your paragraphs here are guilty of this, and you could easily condensce the introduction into two paragraphs, if you even chose to keep it at all. Even your central conceit is then explained in-story in your prologue which, being a prologue, is meant to serve as an introduction to the main story anyway.


    The prologue. Overall it's not bad, certainly rather more interesting then your introduction. I do have a few problems with it though.

    The first thing that sticks out is your third paragraph, where you suddenly switch from past tense to present tense. Given that the rest of your story is written in past tense, you should probably stick with it for this paragraph as well. It is possible to integrate different tenses into a narrative (Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines manages it reasonably well) but for this it seems a bit unecessary. It's not a major fault, but it makes the chapter look a bit incohesive because of it so you might want to rewrite it in the same tense as the rest of the work.

    There are also a couple of events that don't sit too well. The biggest one is that, if they don't want news of this getting out, why do the people running the clinic allow reporters such detailed access to their classified areas? Yes, they disable recording devices, but that isn't likely to matter if a number of reporters who have been there (and you've made it clear Stevens isn't the first). If all those seperate reporters start making the same claims that fact alone is going to bring attention on it. Even though none of them have hard evidence, the fact that several seperate individuals are doing so is going to start raising a few eyebrows. I'm not sure if you're planning on this sort of thing happening later in the narrative, but if you aren't then you're going to need to give Marcus and co. some way of preventing this from happening. This is what I'd consider to be your 'big' problem here. The other two are a bit more minor. First is the whole evolution thing. Now, I'm not going to go into too much here since it's obvious that Dr. Marcus is behaving just a little irrationally in setting his goals. The genetic doomsday comment is kind of silly though, as unless she somehow triggers all developing human embryos to develop in metahuman ways (ala the diclonius in Elfen Lied) the change will be occurring at a pretty slow rate. Even taking a very generous estimate of four children per generation (and that the cat-person traits supercede all others) it would take at least ten generations (around 250 years) before the number of cat-people passed the million mark. Then again, doc Marcus is obviously just a little nuts so don't worry about this. Might be interesting to address why he believes and thinks the way he does at some point though.
    Also, catus is the name for the very specifc subspecies of domestic house cats. Given this, it would probably make more sense to use felis if you wanted to keep the genetic distinction to the 'small cats' of possible even felidae unless you want to draw any big distinctions between 'cat-people' and 'lion-people/leopard-people/tiger-people' etc. Again, minor quibble feel, feel free to ignore.


    I like the opening paragraph to your first chapter, a good use of in medias res and gets the reader interested. Overall it holds up pretty well, although the big explanation of Serenade's past looks a bit out of place. My advice would be to remove it from the chapter and save it for when it becomes relevent, like if she ever needs to share life stories. Remeber, she's the main character so the reader is going to be with her for a long time, you don't need to cram all the details abotu her together at the beginning. Let them flow a bit more naturally through the narrative, you don't introduce yourself by announcing your whole life-story, you let that come out when appropriate. Use the same approach here. That way it flow more naturally and lets the character keep a little air of mystery.

    When it comes to writing style, there aren't any major complaints, although Dr. Marcus repeats himself almost verbatim about there being actual metahumans in the facility when Stevens raises the question. A more general tip would be for a little concision and 'tidying-up', as some of the dialogue is little wordy and doesn't feel quite right (e.g. miss stevens' first question to Marcus about the presence of metahumans). If in doubt, try speaking it out loud to say whether it flows off the tongue right. Also ask yourself if it's something the character would say. Dialogue is one of the most difficult parts of writing well (I find it a major struggle) and will probably require a few rewrites. What you have now is perfectly functional but lacks polish. You're also in that uncomfortable position between the 'show rather then tell' points, where in a some cases you end up doing both. Take Dr. Marcus' openning lines. The fact that he doesn't seriously believe in his test subjects powers is obvious once you confirm his sarcastic tone, you don't then need to go and tell the reader outright. This isn't a huge deal, but again it's lacking that bit of polish.

    Your spelling and grammer aren't bad, although you do seem to have occasionally missed a word or used the wrong one (you use try instead of tried at the end of the first paragraph of chapter 1, for example). Punctuation however needs a bit of work. You seem to be overusing the comma a fair bit. This is a common trap, I took me a while to get over it, but a fair few times that you think you need a comma you probably don't. If you're using a word like and then you don't need to put a comma in front of the preceeding word (unless you're using the commas to denote a parenthesised aside).
    You're also downright abusing the elipses. Frankly, if you're writing in English and in a straight text format you shouldn't be using it much at all. At the moment though the keep popping up everywhere and they really shouldn't as it makes the sentence structure look disjointed. The first piece of advice is that it's often best to let the audience fill-in the dialogue pauses in their own minds. If you've given some emotional context then they'll be able to work out where a character would be likely to pause a bit and won't need any punctuation prompts. Generally the elipses should be used when denoting either the ommission of certain words or when a speaker 'trails off' before reaching the end of his/her sentence. If the speaker is cut-off mid sentence the you use a dash. With this in mind I'll point out a few other points where your elipses use is uneeded:

    “Those are prosthetic…right?” Miss Stevens asked
    Should be a comma.

    “Yeah…well, I’m not so sure I want to be a part of that. I mean, yeah, the detainees aren’t human…but they are still people.”
    First elipses should either be a full-stop or a question mark, depending on how certian you want him to sound. The second just shouldn't have any punctuation there at all.

    What? But…why…how…after all this time…
    Should probably look more like this:
    What? But why? How? After all this time…
    etc.
    Again this isn't a massive criticism, but using a load of elipses just looks bad. Because of their length they stick out even more than oher punctuation and for that reason should be used sparringly. I know comics and manga like them, but those are different mediums and what works there doesn't necesarrily work as well in straight writing.

    So overall, you need polish. What you have is decent, but with a bit of effort spent cleaning it up you'll have something of better quality on your hands.
    Last edited by Mr.Silver; 2009-09-07 at 05:02 PM.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Helanna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    First, a note about introductions and prologues in general: Feel free to use them, but I've been told never to put vital information in them, because there will be readers that simply skip them and move to the first chapter. They're good for establishing background, but many people will just kind of skim them in order to get to the real plot.

    Now, for critiquing:

    Critique: "Neko Tales" by jayeljay


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    First, I'm going to start off by saying that I really like the plot here. Well . . . not necessarily the plot, because a main plot hasn't really been introduced yet, but so far it seems like you have a pretty cool idea, and I'd like to see how it turns out!

    Now, I noticed that you tend to be a little redundant sometimes, such as these two examples:
    ". . . Dr. Samuel Marcus said with a strong sarcastic overtone to his voice, showing his obvious disbelief in the young man’s ‘powers."

    "“Her parents are kept informed her their dear daughter’s progress as we work to free her from her self delusion that she is a catgirl.” Dr. Marcus replied, obviously meaning that they were kept in the dark as to what was really going on."
    In the first, it's obvious that he doesn't believe in the powers, since that's what a sarcastic tone indicates, and your readers know that. Telling them that distracts from the story and sounds too obvious and blatant. In the second quote, since we have already seen that she really is a catgirl, but the doctor says that her parents believe she is deluded, you don't need to point out that her parents are ignorant, it's already implied and then confirmed by the reporter's reaction.

    The other major flaw I noticed was that you tend to use infodumps too often. For example, Serenade's backstory was an infodump - the reader was simply told all of the information, instead of it being naturally revealed through a character's actions and interactions. It was long and unnecessary at that point, which made it hard to read because I wanted to see what was going to happen with the plot. Also, it informed us of a lot of Serenade's personality - hardworking, energetic, active, knows karate, etc. It would be better if you gradually revealed these things throughout the first few chapters of the story - show that Serenade works hard at things. Show her constantly and unconsciously moving around and being restless. Have Serenade mention to someone (well, when she meets someone to talk to, I guess) that she took a lot of karate classes, etc. Or even just have her or the doctor say, "I/She was in a black-belt karate competition when she collapsed and turned into a catgirl" (not in those exact words, of course). That also has the advantage of being subtle foreshadowing of her fighting prowess.

    In a similar vein, remember to show, don't tell. For example, the line "“So I finally get to go home,” She said, sounding like a heavy load had just been lifted from her shoulders." If possible, try to convey that through her words and actions, don't just tell the audience that's what she sounded like. This wasn't a major problem throughout the piece, just something I noticed.


    Now, the fun part of reading my critique: Things that I liked!

    First off, did I mention I just really like this plot so far? I really don't know why I like it so much, seeing as hardly any of it has been revealed yet, but I think this could become a truly awesome story.

    You showed a lot of attention to detail that did a great job of setting up scenes. For example, just glancing back through the first chapter shows a lot of small, unconscious gestures: The doctor steepling his fingers, Serenade's tail twitching, her biting her lip - they're small details, but they really add a lot of character and can do a good job of showing what a character is thinking. At the same time, you didn't over-do them, which tends to clutter up the narrative and be a little too informative after a while. So while you might want to work on physical descriptions of scenes, the descriptions of characters were great.

    Speaking of characters, I really like the characterization of Doctor Marcus. It's clear that he's more delusional than the supposedly insane patients, which is a delightful irony. It's nice that the "villain" here actually has good goals and thinks that he's doing right, rather than just having some standard villain excuse like "They're unnatural abominations that need to be locked up". Plus he's kind of unnervingly creepy, which is good in a villain. It's also good that he's not abusing or mistreating the people, or thinks of them only as animals. It's clear that he acknowledges that they're human, and he doesn't severely abuse them for the sake of abusing them. Things like that make him seem more human and less like "Mwahahaha! I am the villain of this piece and thus I am evil!"

    So yeah. Overall: It does need a bit of work, but it's a very promising start. To recap: Cut down on the redundancy and the infodumps, and work on scene descriptions. Your minor detail descriptions are great though, and Doctor Marcus had the makings of a great, realistic villain. And of course remember that this entire critique is just my opinion, don't feel bound by anything I said!
    Last edited by Helanna; 2009-09-07 at 09:50 PM.
    Awesome avatar by Tiffanie Lirle. Thank you!

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  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    As I've said I'll post something here at some point, I need to pay something back and critique this rather charming opening to what could be a very entertaining story. I'm not much of a poet, but novels I can get my teeth into.

    Critique: "Neko Tales" by jayeljay

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    Well, first of all I think you have a promising idea on your hands here. The idea of fantasy creatures locked up in asylum-like institutions to protect the human race is an interesting one, and as openings go I think you did quite well here. It certainly gave me enough to want to find out more, even using a catgirl fantasy/anime staple that tends to leave me cold. While Mr Silver has picked out a couple of indiscrepencies that I myself also noticed, so I won't repeat them. Instead I'll concentrate on your writing style, as I think the story is something that you have pretty much down pat. Edits will remove the indescrepencies, and the idea is sound, so if you maintain enthusiasm for it I can't see it going too far wrong.

    Okay, writing style then. I'm afraid I noticed a pet peeve of mine very early on in the prologue, which continued all the way through your prose. I'm really not a fan of characters saying something "dryly", or "speaking in a blantantly sarcastic tone of voice". To me, what the characters are saying should really dictate how you read the dialogue, the reader shouldn't have to be spoon-fed the inflection of every spoken line. This is more personal preference than anything else, but to me the narrative flows better when the characters just say things, the reader can usually work out how they're said.

    I like Dr Marcus, he's a strong initial character. He has strongly held views, and while doing these things for the right reasons, he commits atrocities that world outside the prison would balk at. He does the wrong things for the right reasons, and therefore the reader can sympathise with his worldview, even if they don't agree with it. Miss Stevens, on the other hand, just seems like a vehicle for showing the reader the asylum and Dr Marcus' views on what he and his colleagues do. That's fine if she only appears in the Prologue, but if she's going to come back into the story later she might need a bit more fluff. Seranade I have no strong opinion of, but I already symapthise with her position. I'm on her side from the off, which I think was your intention with this opening.

    So, some general good points of your writing style:

    - Your description is pretty strong, as is your description of the short action sequences so far.

    - Your dialogue, apart from a few occasions, flows well and sounds quite natural. There is a distinct lack of cliche in the things the caharacters say, which is definitely a good thing. Sound dialogue is a difficult skill to acquire, but you're quite naturally gifted I think.

    Now, a few areas with room for improvement:

    - The introduction feels a little unecessary. I think it could work if it could be woven into an excerpt from Dr Marcus' case notes or something, but as it is it just seems superfluous.

    - Drop some of the unnecessary words that litter your prose at the moment. Sure, a lot of that will come with editting, but there's no harm in saying this early. Your work flows better with these words and small descriptions taken out, which kind of links in to my point about dialogue inflection above.

    Sure, I've probably focussed on criticism more than the things you've done well, but it's intentionally skewed. You learn the most from the things you can improve, and the things you're already good at don't need much polishing. You've got a promising story here, and an effective writing style that's a little rough aroudn the edges. A good start and the promise of better things to come, I salute you sir!
    Elder Tsofu believes in the power of Banjo! Banjo-tar by Bayar, I think!
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  22. - Top - End - #22
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    I would like to thank all three of you, Banjo, DDragon, and Mr. Silver, for your critiques. I find it quite refreshing to get unbiased reviews, as most people who I have asked to critique it thusfar are my friends and were afraid of hurting my feelings. (not that I mind that ^-^) Anyhoo, You've all raised a number of good points, and I have saved all of your critiques to my computer, for future reference.

    If noone minds (and seeing as how there doesn't seem to be anyone else wanting to post in here) I have two more chapters of this story written. I've identified a major flaw, whihc I am sure you guys will as well, though I am sure ther are more I haven't noticed. I will post them if I get the OK.
    Credit to Elrond for avvy. ^_^

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Helanna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    I don't know about Jimor but I say post them because I really want to know what happens.

    Also, I may just actually post a story at least by Monday. Truly, it will be an amazing event (in that I actually stopped being so lazy and took the time to really edit through a story).
    Awesome avatar by Tiffanie Lirle. Thank you!

    Her name is Saunel. She is very angry.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Yes, go ahead, that will help get things going. When there's a nice backlog of stories already on the board, that's when we can insist somebody go back and make some new critiques first. Just remember to catch up with your own critiques when there's finally something to read.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    jayeljay's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    I'll me more than happy to give critiques, but realize tthat this story is the first thing I have ever written. As such, I would hate to give someone poor advice. Don't think I will not give critiques though, I swear I will.

    Also, I would like to suggest a book for someone just learning to write. Everything I have posted was written before I stopped and read the book, including these twochapters. Infact I am still reading. A tip to anyone wanting to write: If you want to write a story based on a Roleplay you create, make sure you finish the roleplay first. I learned that lesson the hard way.

    Edit: Silly me, I forgot to tell you the name of the book. 'The Art and Craft of Storytelling' by Nancy Lamb.

    Neko tails
    Chapter 2
    Spoiler
    Show
    Serenade groaned softly as she began to open her eyes, a cool fresh spring breeze wafting over her body. ”Funny, I would have sworn the city didn’t smell this nice,” She mused quietly to herself as she began to stretch her limbs, sore for the odd way she had been laying. As she sat upright and looked around, a strange sight met her eyes. Instead of the brick walls and concrete ground of the alleyway she had been in, she now appeared to be in front of a reflecting pool, set amidst a magnificent garden, split into seven individual smaller gardens. Each of the smaller gardens showcased a different flower, and it’s many variations. Daisies, lilacs, roses, orchids, tulips, buttercups, and peonies were each represented, with a fountain adorning the center of each. Directly in front of her sat a small patch assorted chrysanthemums. Off in the distance, she could see a sprawling forest, and even further still, a tall mountain. ”Wherever this is, I am so not in New York anymore,” She thought to herself in amazement as she stood, and turned around slowly, taking in what else was around her.

    To her right, she could see what appeared to be the entrance to a hedge maze, the large bronze gate currently closed tight. Some ways beyond it, she could see the forest again. To her left, she could see the workings of a farm, complete with fields of various vegetables, an orchard, and a large barn. From inside the barn, she could hear the sounds of chickens. Right next to the barn sat a stable, with horses standing in various stalls, each looking well fed and groomed. Off in the distance, she could hear the trademark moos of cattle.

    As she finally turned all the way around, she saw she was standing on a cobblestone path, which led directly to a large four-story mansion. The roof was slanted forward, rather than flat, and was covered with bright red Spanish tile. The exterior was whitewashed, and, as she drew nearer, she could see carvings of animals, akin to gargoyles, lining the edges where the exterior walls met the roof. Stepping onto the large front porch, and past the fluted columns, she stood before a set of large oak doors, a brass knocker, fashioned into the face of a lion, set on each. “Ok, here goes nothing. I just hope someone here can tell me where I am.” She said softly to herself, feeling as though she had stepped into a dream, as she reached out and took hold of the right door’s knocker. She hesitated a moment, and used her free hand to tug at one of her ears. “Ouch! Ok, so this isn’t a dream…I hope.” She said softly, as she lifted the knocker and brought it back down.

    No sooner had the knocker stuck the door, than the left door opened, revealing a strikingly odd figure. He stood 6’ tall, and wore a bright violet tuxedo, with a red cummerbund, and orange Chrysanthemum tucked into his lapel pocket. A green silk top hat sat upon his head, which was soon removed, allowing his bright neon green locks to flow free as he bowed to the woman before him. Standing up straight again, she could see his face was as pale as a sheet, and his eyes were black as onyx, with yellow irises, and white pupils. His smiled as he looked downward slightly at Serenade, revealing the teeth behind his dark cherry red lips to be a bright cerulean blue, and pointed in the shape of a shark’s, offset by the strange purple color of his gums.

    “I bid you welcome, my dear, to my humble abode.” He said stretching out a hand to indicate all she saw around, including the mansion. “Please, do come in, and relax, we have important matters to discuss.” He said turning, and beginning to walk back inside.

    “W-Wait!” Serenade forced out, after she finally regained her voice, having been quite startled by his unique and eccentric appearance. “Just who are you?” She asked, cocking her head to the side, as one of her ears twitched.

    He stopped, turning his head around slightly to look at her out of the corner of his eye, a broad grin on his face. “I, my dear, am the Magnificent Marcone! Granter of wishes, and deliverer of dreams extraordinaire!” She said, snapping a finger, causing her to be pulled inside, the door closing behind her. “Now, please, we have much to discuss, it is most important that you follow me.” He said, turning once more, and pointing forward slightly, causing Serenade to feel herself being slowly dragged along behind him as he continued walking once more.

    “Nyaaa!” Serenade squealed as she stumbled forward, finally catching her step. “Wh-what…how…are you controlling me?” She asked softly, her eyes watching her feet.

    “Oh no, not controlling you my dear. It’s nothing other than telekinesis, I am pulling you along behind me with my mind, and nothing more.”

    “Hey, I can walk on my own you know!” She growled in confusion and embarrassment as she continued behind him.

    “Yes, but I don’t want you getting into anything, being the curious cat that you are,” He replied.

    Serenade huffed as she continued to follow along. “What makes you so sure I would mess with anything in here anyway? I might think it’s all trash.”

    Marcone cackled loudly for a moment, before suddenly ceasing without warning. “Just take a look around you as we walk, my dear, and see if you actually do come to that assessment.”

    Pursing her lips, Serenade did as she was asked, her eyes widening at what she saw. Throughout the house were many seemingly priceless pieces of artwork. Marble, bronze, and gold statues of many varying subjects and sized were situated amongst oil paintings and beautiful hand carved furniture.

    “Ok…that’s a lot of art,” Serenade said softly.

    “Indeed,” Marcone replied simply, leading her into his office. “Have a seat if you would,” He said, as he took his own seat behind an antique wooden desk.

    Serenade sat down in a large leather chair across from the desk, curling her tail around and setting it gently into her lap. “Before you begin to tell me…whatever it is you need to tell me, can you please answer a few questions? I’m REALLY confused right now.”

    “Certainly, I do not see the harm in that,” He said, slipping his top hat off once more, and tossing it onto a nearby hat rack, before leaning back and relaxing. “What would you care to ask me about, Serenade?”

    “Well, first off, I would like to know where I am, and how I got here,” She asked.

    Marcone chuckled. “My dear, you are where you wished to go, and you are here because you wished it,” He said enigmatically.

    Serenade pursed her lips. “That’s not what I meant. Just where IS here?”

    “The Immortal Realm,” Marcone replied with a broad grin.

    “Immortal…Realm? I don’t believe I am familiar with that…this…place,” She said softly, sounding confused.

    “That is because you are a mortal, of course. The Mortal Realm is for mortals, and the Immortal Realm is for…”

    “Immortals?” She guessed, to which Marcone nodded in agreement.

    “Yes, this realm, the Immortal Realm is a plane of existence exclusively for immortal beings. The Mortal Realm, on the other hand, is for mortals alone, the majority of which happen to be human,” Marcone replied.

    “So, you are immortal, hmm?” Serenade asked skeptically.

    “Yes, I am, though not in the sense you must be expecting. Immortals can be killed, just as any mortal can. We can also die from sickness, or poisoning, but it is admittedly rare. We cannot die, however, from mere old age.”

    Serenade nodded slowly. “I don’t exactly follow, but I’ll accept that explanation for now,” She said. “Tell me exactly how bringing me to this…’Immortal Realm’ classifies as granting my wish,” She said skeptically.

    “Simple. Your wish was, and I quote: ‘I wish I was absolutely as far away from here as possible, by any means necessary!’” He said, mimicking her voice with astonishing accuracy. “In your wish, ‘here’ was referring to your exact location on planet earth at that exact moment, within your home dimension, within the Mortal Realm,” He began.

    “Home dimension? You mean the Mortal Realm, right?” Serenade interrupted.

    Marcone shook his head. “Not at all. The Mortal Realm is divided into a near infinite number of ‘parallel universes,’ I believe is the term, each containing another possible reality. The Immortal Realm is not divided in such a manner, lacking parallel dimensions,” He continued. “Do you follow?”

    Serenade nodded slowly. “Not exactly, but I do get the general idea.” She replied.

    “Excellent,” He replied, smiling. “As I said, your wish referred to that exact spot. You wanted to be ‘absolutely as far away from’ there as you possibly could.’ While that in its own right would not have warranted bringing you here, you added to the wish. ‘By any means necessary.’ That changed it from a simple matter of moving you, to determining exactly just how far I could move you, through all means at my disposal. To wit, I had no choice but to take you as far away from there as I possibly could, through any powers at my disposal. And you cannot get much farther away from where you were, than entering an entirely new plane of existence, now, can you?”

    “No, I guess not,” Serenade said softly, trying to comprehend just how far away she was from not only Dr. Marcus, but her family and friends as well.

    “If there are no further questions, I believe that brings us to the reason I brought you here, to my home, rather than simply dropping you off somewhere random within the Immortal Realm.”

    “I thought you were just being courteous, or maybe it was the first place that came to mind,” Serenade replied.

    Marcone shook his head. “I’m afraid it is not that simple, my dear,” Marcone began. “Due to the nature of your wish, and…the fear I sensed coming from you when you made it, I granted it without question. However, mortals are not permitted to remain within the Immortal realm, due to certain laws that have been in place since before I was born. That, coupled with the fact that, due to the way your wish was worded, including the intent in your heart when I made it, I cannot send you back without breaking your wish.”

    “I don’t want to go back there,” Serenade replied, more than a hint of anger in her voice at the thought of returning to the hell of Dr. Marcus’ clinic. “I really don’t care if you break my wish, just send me back to my home…my real home,” She said.

    Marcone shook his head, leaning forward to rest his arms on the desk. “I’m afraid I cannot do that. Even with your approval, I cannot break out contract without suffering a serious infraction against my business.”

    “Business? How is this a business, I never purchased a thing from you. Or do those little cards cost something?”

    He chuckled. “My dear, there are many manners and forms of ‘business,’ no matter which plane of existence you are currently inhabiting. I gain a benefit from granting wishes, yes, but not in a monetary sense. Let us just say that…I prefer to keep myself occupied.”

    Serenade sighed and shrugged. “Whatever you say, I guess, but it still doesn’t make much sense to me.”

    “That is fine,” Marcone replied. “As I was saying, should I break the contract between you and I, there would be repercussions would I would quite rather avoid.”

    “So let me get this straight: Not only can you not send me back to my home, but, I cannot stay here, either.”

    He nodded. “Yes, that is indeed the dilemma you are facing. However, there is more.”

    Serenade sighed. “Great, more. What else are you going to dump on me?”

    Marcone pursed his lips, pinching the bridge of his nose slightly as he closed his eyes, and lounged back in his chair, a sigh escaping his lips. After a moment or two, he opened his eyes, looking forward at Serenade. “You will be going before the Interplanar Court of Mortal and Immortal Relations, also known as Icomair by some for it’s far greater simplicity.”

    “Exactly what is that?” Serenade asked, her tail twitching with agitation. The thought of going in front of any group calling themselves a court was enough to set her on edge.

    “The court handles all matters involving interaction between mortals and immortals, and sees to it that the laws governing both groups are followed. Unofficially, however, they are also act as the main ruling body over the Immortal Realm, and all immortals within it. Their say is, of course, not truly final, as the last word always belongs to The Supreme One.”

    “The who?” Serenade asked, a look of confusion on her face.

    “Nothing to be concerned about right now,” Marcone said with a dismissing wave of his hand. “The point is that they, and only they, have the power to determine whether you will remain here, or be sent back to your real home, as you so desire.”

    “But didn’t you say that mortals are not allowed to stay here?” She asked, bewildered.

    He nodded. “That is true. If they decide that you will not be sent back, then you will be made immortal,” He said flatly.

    “Oh my-that sounds…” Her voice trailed off, unsure just how she felt about becoming immortal.

    “Don’t celebrate just yet, there is a catch. In order to become an immortal, the essence of your mortal soul, the very energy that sustains it, must be extracted from your body and replaced with that of an immortal. You would likely not retain the form of a neko after this process, and, depending on which of the judges were to perform the ritual, they might take a personal interest in deciding which of the immortal races you would become.”

    Serenade gulped slowly. “So…I wouldn’t be human anymore?” She asked softly.

    “No, you wouldn’t. You can, however, plead your case either way you so choose, either electing to try to return home, or pleading to stay and be granted immortality,” He said, and then sighed. “You may stay here tonight if you so wish, I won’t cast you out into the night.”

    Serenade nodded slightly. “Thank you. How long before I have to go to this court?”

    “I would expect some time tomorrow evening, as I will be waiting until tomorrow to contact them, and they always like to get these matters dealt with as soon as they are capable. Until then, please make yourself at home. Dinner will be served in about an hour I think. Let me call Neptuna to show you to a room,” He said, pulling a long braided cord hanging from the ceiling, causing a bell to chime throughout the mansion.

    A few minutes later a woman walked into the room, dressed in a conservative, yet lovely, maid uniform. As she stepped into the room, Serenade first thought that she was human, until she noticed her sharply pointed ears, and the pale green locks of hair, which flowed down to her shoulder blades. Realizing she was staring, Serenade blushed, looking away.

    “Yes Master Marcone? What can I do for you?” She asked, her voice professional, though still quite pleasant to the ears.

    “Serenade will be staying with us for tonight. Please show her to one of the guest rooms, one with a personal bath. I…believe she may find that a most welcome accoutrement,” He said,

    Neptuna nodded. “Yes sir. Does Lady Serenade have any luggage that I will need to transport?”

    “No, just herself,” Marcone said, snapping his fingers. “Let her use the suite with the special closet, the one that changes it’s clothing for whoever is using the room at the time.”

    Neptuna nodded again. “Yes sir Master Marcone. If you will please follow me, Lady Serenade,” She said, as she stepped out of the room.

    Serenade turned to Marcone. “I still don’t fully understand everything that is going on, but, I want to thank you for getting me away from Dr. Marcus.”

    “Think nothing of it,” Marcone said, as he watched Serenade leave his office, before adding quietly under his breath: “Besides, you have far much more to think about, when you meet with the High Judge, tomorrow.”

    Serenade followed Neptuna up the stairs, her tail swishing slightly at the tip, as she thought about a private hot bath for the first time in months, no years. She sighed as she walked, catching Neptuna’s attention.

    “Is there something I can do for you, Lady Serenade?” She asked, looking back at Serenade as she continued to scale the stairs.

    “Hmm? Oh, no, nothing. I was simply daydreaming about a nice long soak in the tub, I haven’t had one in…quite some time,” She said softly.

    “Forgive me, but I find that hard to believe. You do not bear any odor that would most certainly be present if you had not taken a bath in so long.”

    “No, I’ve had baths, just…not in private,” Serenade replied, her tail drooping. “Can we talk about something else, I’d rather not think about that.”

    Neptuna nodded. “As you wish, Lady Serenade,” She replied. “What would you like to talk about?”

    “I’m…not exactly sure,” Serenade replied, as she tried to stifle a yawn. “I think, if you won’t mind, I’ll put off talking until tomorrow, I need some sleep.”

    “As you wish, Lady Serenade,” Neptuna replied, as she stopped before a cherry wood door, and unlocked it, placing the key into Serenade’s hand. “Please return the key to me when your stay is over, please,” She said as she opened the door.

    “Whoa…” Serenade breathed as she stepped into the room. The furnishings matched what she had seen in the rest of the house, though she was thankful that there did not seem to be any statues in the room. Facing the door, and sitting directly under a large window through which the garden could be seen, sat a full queen sized four-poster bed, with fresh white linens. Also in the room was a nightstand with a small reading lamp, and a dresser, a selection of perfumes laid out for her use.

    Neptuna gestured to two doors. “In there is the bathroom, and the one over there is the closet. Please pull the cord next to the bed if there is anything you need, Lady Serenade,” She said with a small curtsy.

    Serenade nodded. “Thank you, I will,” She said, closing the door and heading over to the bathroom. Inside, she saw the tub was actually quite large, almost large enough to swim in. Oddly, it was already full, yet there seemed to be no visible drain, nor faucet. As if my magic, however, the water was already warm, steam gently billowing off of its surface. Stripping off her clothes, and casting them aside, she eased herself in, and stretched her tired limbs, beginning to relax and enjoy her bath for the first time in ages.

    Chapter 3
    Spoiler
    Show
    Serenade wriggled from side to side, eyeing her prey closely. Her tail was low to the ground, so as to keep her from being spotted, and her eyes followed its movement, from her side of an overturned sneaker. Her prey zoomed around the hardwood floor of the kitchen, straying close to her food dish occasionally, much to her disapproval. She kept her tongue silent though, not daring to alert it to her presence. As she watched it, she almost jumped the gun once or twice, her eagerness to pounce being almost too much to bear. The little thing rolled underneath the kitchen table, and weaved between the legs of the chairs there. She eyed it carefully; keeping herself hunkered down behind the sneaker. Finally, the little thing turned, and came towards her. Just as it turned to head back the way it came, she made her strike, lunging out from behind the sneaker to pounce on the small remote controlled mouse!

    Much to her chagrin, it zipped off, causing her to just miss it, and slide on the floor slightly. She quickly regained her composure, and bounded off after it. The mouse had, by now, left the hardwood floors of the kitchen, heading onto the carpeted floors of the living room. Serenade knew a mistake when she saw one, and watched as the mouse slowed, its wheels bogging down in the thick bedding of the carpet. Pouncing once more, she easily outmaneuvered her prey, knocking it onto its back. Holding a paw on top of it in victory, she sniffed at it a moment. Batting it around a few more minutes, she soon tired of the now uninteresting toy, and padded off to do something else.

    Stopping by the kitchen for a quick bite of kitty chow, and some water to quench her thirst, she made her way outside, through the small cat door set into the back door, and into the back yard. Her eyes scanned the green landscape of the fenced off plot of grass behind the house. This was her territory, her domain. She sniffed the air as she made her way down the steps and off the porch, stopping in her tracks at the bottom. Something was off. There was a scent in the air. Was it a bird? No, birds had a yummy smell to them. This smelled different. Following the scent, she made her way out into the yard, and to a cozy spot near the fence where she enjoyed snoozing in the sun.

    However, this time, something was in her spot. Her fur bristled at this encroachment on her territory. Moving closer, she sniffed at the wretched beast. This close, it smelled horrible. It must have sensed her presence though, as the black furred lab pup woke up, looking at her. She growled at him, trying to scare him off, after all, this was her territory, and he had no business here. His response was, surprisingly, to bark playfully, and pounce on her, licking her face.

    Serenade hissed, and swatted at him, taking off away from this wretched little monster. The little puppy gave chase, barking cheerfully at its new playmate. The mighty hunter had now become the prey. Serenade dashed through some bushes, and then underneath the car, trying to lose the dog. It gave chase, however, and she was forced out from underneath the car, hopping on top of it. She chuckled to herself as she watched the pup squirm from underneath the car, looking around for her, sniffing the air. Knocking an acorn off of the roof of the car and onto the ground, she watched as he turned towards where it had fallen, and began to bound around the car, running in circles and thinking he would catch her.

    Sadly, her entertainment was brought to an end when he saw her. He took a few tries, but eventually hopped onto the hood of the car, and bounded up the windshield, towards her, barking playfully once more. Serenade hissed as he pounced on her again, his sloppy tongue drooling all over her face as he licked her. She quickly rolled out from under him, scratching his nose, and taking off again. The lab pup barked in surprise at the scratch, but quickly forgot about it, chasing her around the yard once more.

    Fed up with this, Serenade made her way up a tree in the yard, and onto a nice thick branch in the sun, just over the pool. The dog barked up at her, and, despite its best efforts, couldn’t get up the tree. Finally, it padded back over to where it was before, and laid back down in the sun for a nap.

    Serenade curled up on the branch, staring daggers at the little intruder. Whatever he was, she couldn’t stand him. She was a cat, a predator, a hunter. And this disgusting foul smelling dope had muscled his way in on not only her territory, but her favorite sunning spot as well. This was intolerable. Some way, some how, that little heathen had to go before it took everything from her. She’s show him, she’d-

    CRACK.

    Serenade’s ears perked at the sound, and the sudden movement of her perch in the tree. Before she could figure out what was going on, the branch she was on broke far enough to drop her scrambling flailing form into the pool below with a splash.

    Serenade’s eyes snapped open, as she sat upright in the tub, coughing lightly. Her soak in the tub had been relaxing enough to cause her to doze off, and eventually slip her head down beneath the surface. She took a few moments and caught her breath as she thought about the dream she had. She felt somewhat ridiculas for dreaming she was a housecat, but chuckled at the novelty of it. Sighing softly, she took a moment to look around the bathroom, paying attention to what she saw, now that she felt more relaxed.

    The bathroom was done simply in a simple palette which mostly focused on whites. Across the room from the tub she was lounging in was a simple toilet, with a whitewashed wooden cabinet and a sink on either side. A wooden medicine cabinet was set on the wall above the sink, a nice sized mirror on its front. On the wall across from the entrance door was a large window, which was thankfully covered with a translucent curtain. The window appeared to be the only source of light in the room, though it was more than enough. She noticed the light reflecting off of the shiny floor, which on closer inspection appeared to be a single slab of marble, covering the floor from wall to wall.

    Looking herself over, Serenade wrinkled her nose at how pruney her skin had gotten. Slipping from the tub, she moved over to the cabinet and looked inside. There was a large assortment of bottles inside, with intricately hand written labels. Looking over them, she chose a bottle of what she surmised as lavender scented body wash. She also snagged what appeared to be a simple shampoo. Grabbing a cloth, she returned to the tub, and set about the task of finishing her bath. She couldn’t help but smile, glad to be doing her own bathing again. Soon satisfied, she dunked her head under the water to rinse the suds out of her hair. Gently wringing it out, she soon stepped out, and moved back to the cabinet, taking out cotton towel to dry herself with.

    Serenade wrapped a robe around herself as she stepped out of the bathroom. As she did so, she noted her outfit from before had gone missing, probably taken away by the maid she had met previously. On her way across the room to the closet, she noticed an outfit had already been placed out on the bed for her to wear. Smiling at the maid’s thoughtfulness, she took up the clothes, and began to dress. First a pair of black denim jeans, followed by a red t-shirt, and finished off with a black leather vest. They all fit like they had been made just for her. She picked up the shoes that had been set out next, raising her eyebrow. They were a pair of black leather boots with three inch heels. Shrugging, she slipped them over her sock covered feet. She spent a few minutes admiring her self in a full length mirror next to the closet door, before she was interrupted by a gurgling in her stomach.

    She started towards the door for a moment, before remembering what the maid had said. Turning back to the bed, she made her way over to the cord hanging from the ceiling. The maid HAD told her to pull the cord if she needed anything, but Serenade preferred to do things for herself, especially after being unable to for so long. Finally, realizing she didn’t even know where anything in this mansion was, she had no choice but to take hold of the cord. A single pull on it caused a bell to ring, bringing a smile to Serenade’s face. Turning around to face the door, her eyes widened slightly to see that it was already being opened.

    The maid curtseyed as she stepped into the room. “What can I do for you, Lady Serenade?”

    “Well, um, could you start by calling me just Serenade? I’m not used to the whole formal ‘Lady’ business. Besides...it doesn’t exactly fit me, I don’t think.” Serenade said softly, not wanting to offend the maid.

    The maid nodded. “Very well, Serenade. I do apologize in advance should I slip up and revert into my normal habits. Will that be all?”

    “No, um…what’s your name again?” Serenade asked somewhat awkwardly, an uncomfortable laugh escaping her throat as she continued to make eye contact. Her time spent in the clinic had left her feeling somewhat self-conscious.

    “My name is Neptuna.” The maid replied with a pleasant smile. “You look uncomfortable, is there anything I can do to be of service?”

    Serenade shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I just-“ She was interrupted by her stomach gurgling once more. “…right, I had almost forgotten. I was hoping you could show me where I can get something to eat?”

    “I’d be more than happy to get you something myself.” Neptuna responded. “It is my job after all.”

    “I know, but I’ve been unable to do anything for myself for a long time, you see…” Serenade began.

    Neptuna nodded. “I never said I wouldn’t let you. There’s a small kitchenette on this floor that I keep stocked for myself. You may use it if you would like.” She said.

    Serenade smiled. “I’d like that. Mind showing me where it is?” She said, relaxing a bit.

    “It would be my pleasure, Serenade.” Neptuna said with another curtsey. She turned, stepping out of the room, and down the hall. Serenade followed close behind, glancing to her left or right from time to time at various statues and paintings adoring the hall. Soon, Neptuna opened a door and stepped in, Serenade following suit.

    The first thing Serenade noticed as she walked in was what at first glance was a rather large fireplace set into the wall opposite the door, taking up most of the wall in fact. The floor was done this time in a hard stone substance that she didn’t recognize. As she moved past the entryway, she noted a few tables, and some cabinets and drawers.

    “So, is this it?” She asked, looking and sounding perplexed by what she saw.

    “Yes, is something wrong?” Neptuna asked, picking up on Serenade’s tone.

    “Well, it’s just…where do I cook? Where’s the stove, or for that matter, the oven?” She asked, looking around to see if she had missed something. “Or a microwave…that would be best.” She said.

    Neptuna chuckled slightly. “You can set a fire in the fireplace for heat. The grate there is for setting pots and pans on to heat. As for an oven, the fireplace also heats an oven built into the top. Just slide your bread or whatever dish you need to back inside and it should be done fairly quickly. You can handle that, right?”

    Serenade simply blinked a few moments, before replying. ‘Maybe I had better just eat what you have on hand, rather than trying to cook. I could go for a sammich.” She said with a smile.

    “Don’t you mean sandwich?” Neptuna asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “No, I mean sammich. I prefer that word to sandwich, if that’s alright.” Serenade replied.

    “No, its fine, I’m just not used to it is all. I keep plenty of cooked foods in here.” Neptuna said, opening one of the cabinets. Inside Serenade could see breads, meats, and plenty of fruits and veggies, all on dishes and lying on the shelves inside.

    “Shouldn’t you keep all that food somewhere cold, so it doesn’t spoil? Like a refrigerator?” Serenade asked.

    “We don’t have ‘refrigerators’ here, but I can assure you it is cold. See for yourself.” She said, motioning Serenade to come over.

    She did so, reaching in and touching one of the shelves. She took her hand back quickly, surprised by the coldness of it, and the air within. Curious, she looked closer, examining the cabinet from all sides. Finding no cord attached to it, and in fact realizing that there seemed to be a lack of electrical outlets throughout the house, she furrowed her brow at Neptuna. “How’s this possible? How can you have an ice box or something like this, without electricity?” Before Neptuna could answer, Serenade spoke once more. “Wait, I got it, there’s a large block of ice inside here somewhere, like the old ice boxes they used to make.” She said, peering around inside the cabinet.

    Neptuna shook her head. “I assure you, you will not find any large block of ice within this cabinet. It is chilled by magic, and nothing more.” She insisted.

    Serenade shook her head and sighed. “All of this magic stuff is going to take some getting used to, especially when I don’t even understand it.”

    Neptuna bit her lip slightly for a moment. “I would help you if I could, but I am unable to perform magic myself.”

    “Really?” Serenade asked, taken aback slightly by the revelation. “I would have thought everyone in this world could, it just seemed like it would make sense.”

    “Perhaps it would make sense, but sensible answers are not always the correct ones.” She said enigmatically. Before they could converse any further, they both heard a voice in their minds.

    ”Neptuna, please inform Serenade that, if she would like to, she may dine at my dinner table tonight.” Came the unmistakable sound of Marcone’s voice to the both of them, as though he were in the room at that very moment.

    Serenade looked from side to side, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. “You know, you could just tell me yourself and not hide in the cupboard or wherever you are.” She said with an annoyed tone.

    Neptuna put a hand to her shoulder. “He’s not hiding in here, he’s probably in his office. He was using telepathy, you do know what that is, right?”

    “Yeah, it’s what he uses to read my mind.” Serenade huffed. “What was that about eating at his table?”

    “As you undoubtedly heard, Master Marcone has extended an invitation for you to join him for dinner.” Neptuna replied, as she stepped aside and began to close the cabinet doors.

    “Dinner? But it was still morning when I got here, wasn’t it?” Serenade asked.

    “Yes, but you have been asleep for quite some time. You must have been exhausted, and Master Marcone wished that you not be disturbed.” She said, heading for the door. “If you will follow me, I will be happy to show you to the dining hall.”

    “But what about eating in here?” Serenade asked as she followed Neptuna out of the room.

    “You may come in here for a snack at any time you please. I simply ask that you do not make too large of a mess.” Neptuna replied, as she closed the door for Serenade.

    “I’ll just try to clean up any mess I make. Besides, I don’t cook very much. I’ll probably just stick to sammiches, instead.”

    Neptuna nodded. “Very well, then. Please follow me if you would.” She said, and started back down the hall, towards the staircase. “The dining hall is downstairs. If there is anything you need from your room, you can get it as we pass by.”

    “I didn’t bring anything with me except for those clothes I had on, whatever happened to them.” Serenade said with a shrug.

    “I took them to be laundered. I hope you do not mind too much.” Neptuna replied.

    “Hmm? No, not at all. I just didn’t know what had happened is all.” Serenade said with a shrug.

    Neptuna nodded, and continued past Serenade’s room, down the stairs, and then down another, much larger hall. She soon stopped at a pair of large wooden doors, and opened one, motioning Serenade to enter. She did so, marveling at the room. The first thing she saw, of course, was the massive table. If she had been asked to guess, she would have estimated it could seat 100 people comfortably, maybe even more. As she moved closer she could see that the table, and even each of the chairs seemed to be hand-carved with intricate fluting and spiral designs. To her right the majority of the wall was taken up by a great many windows, allowing a magnificent view of the garden outside, in twilight. Covering the wall to the left was a large finely woven tapestry. Making a mental note to herself to take a closer look at it later, her eyes drifted up to the ceiling, and the source of light for the room. She came to a halt as she saw the massive crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It didn’t seem to have candles, but instead small white stones set in the place of candles were glowing brightly, the crystals catching the light and scattering it across the room.

    “You know, if you keep standing there with your mouth gaping open, you’re liable to get a mouthful of dust eventually.” Marcone’s voice came from across the room, breaking Serenade out of her stupor. He chuckled softly. “Please, come and have a seat. There is a little something I would like to discuss with you, my dear.” He said, beginning to levitate Serenade over.

    “Myaa! Hey, I can walk, remember!” She snapped as she flailed helplessly in the air.

    “I simply must stop doing that one of these days.” Marcone muttered to himself, as he set Serenade back down. As she drew near, he pulled out a chair for her with his telekinesis. Once she was seated, he pulled her up to the table in the same fashion.

    Serenade stomach gurgled again, causing her to blush. “Um, sorry, but where’s the food?” She asked, gesturing to the table. Though it was set for herself and Marcone with every piece of flatware in its place, and a clean plate with a folded napkin set right in front of the chair, there was an obvious lack of food on the table.

    “Neptuna will be bringing the first course shortly.” Marcone replied. “Before she does, I was hoping you could return a certain item to me.” He said, leaning forward slightly, clasping his white gloved hands under his chin.

    “Item? What are you talking about, I don’t have anything of yours…do I?” Serenade asked, looking bewildered.

    “The card, my dear, the card. I prefer for them to not be used over once in the same area. People begin to find out about it and pretty soon it is going from hand to hand and the wishes are getting wilder and wilder by the moment. No, it’s always easier to get it back, and then send it somewhere else. So, out with it already, I would like it back now, before it becomes misplaced.” He said, holding out his hand as he did so.

    Serenade blinked, thinking back to when she had last seen it. Remembering she had left it behind, she bit her lip.

    Marcone sighed. “You don’t have it, do you?” He said, withdrawing his hand.

    “It’s not my fault, how was I supposed to know I needed it?” Serenade countered, in her defense.

    “True, you didn’t know. However, that is an excuse. It is still your fault that you do not have it, whether you intended to cause me grief or not.” Marcone calmly countered.

    Serenade pursed her lips. “Aren’t you some kind of all powerful wizard? Why can’t you just cast a spell to bring it back here?” She asked.

    “Oh, I can do that, no doubt. I may not be all powerful, but that would be a piece of cake. However, the same reason that keeps me from sending you back, also keeps me from doing that. This is a business, despite what you may think, and there are rules and regulations that I must follow, if I am to remain in business.”

    Serenade groaned. “Again with the regulations? It’s like all contact between the mortal and immortal realms is almost completely forbidden.”

    “In some ways, it is my dear. But that is a discussion for another time, and another place.” He said, leaning back as Neptuna set the first course before them: a rich beef consommé. She also set a cup of hot tea for each of them, leaving a pot behind for them to refill their cups at their leisure. With a curtsey, and a nod in return from Marcone, she left them to their meal and discussions once more.

    Serenade began to eagerly reach for a spoon, but stopped, realizing she didn’t know which one to use, exactly. She looked over to Marcone, hoping to see which he was using. It availed her not, however, as he was currently occupied with watching her, a wide grin on his face. “Is something wrong?” She asked, her jaw slightly askew.

    Marcone’s shark-toothed grin widened, if that was even possible. “No, nothing. It’s always amusing to watch someone being so worried about formalities. Myself, I prefer to use whichever spoon I am in the mood for, while at home. And before you ask anyway, a good rule of thumb is to work from the outside in, for any flatware pieces you need.”

    “You could have just let me ask my question…” She said softly, taking up her spoon and beginning to eat.

    “Now where would the fun in that be, I ask you.” Marcone replied cheerfully, taking up a spoon of his own, and beginning to eat as well.

    After the soup course, came a fresh garden salad, topped with blue cheese and fresh basil vinaigrette. Slices of fresh bread were served with the salad, along with fresh butter. Next was the main course: several seared lamb chops served rare, with a generous helping of red onion and fennel rice pilaf, and sautéed green beans topped with apple chutney. Finally a piece of rich black forest cake was served for dessert. Serenade talked little during her meal, and Marcone chose to not press her, knowing what she had been through, and had narrowly escaped, from reading her mind. As they both finished, twilight had turned to dusk, and then to nighttime. The garden outside seemed to almost glow in the moonlight.

    “My compliments to the chef,” Serenade said as she sipped her tea. “That was quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever had in my life.” She said, relaxing back in her chair.

    “You can tell her yourself, actually. Neptuna cooks all the meals here. She really keeps the place together.” He replied. “So, is there anything you want to ask me?”

    “Yeah, just how old are you?” Serenade replied.

    “Four million nine hundred and seventy-eight thousand two hundred and ninety-three years old,” Marcone replied. “At least by your definition of years.”

    Serenade blinked, speechless. “You’re joking…right?” She said tentatively.

    “Indeed. You know it’s impolite to ask someone how old they are. Besides, you didn’t really expect me to tell you how old I am, did you?” Marcone cackled.

    “Actually, I did, but whatever.” Serenade replied, as Neptuna returned to clear away the rest of their dishes. “The meal was really good, Neptuna, I really appreciated it.” She said, smiling.

    Neptuna smiled in return. “It’s always nice to serve someone as gracious as you. Most of Master Marcone’s guests are rather…”

    “Worrisome.” Marcone cut in. “Let’s just call them worrisome, and leave it at that. I prefer to keep my insults for those that really deserve it.”

    “Yes sir, Master Marcone.” Neptuna replied, as she left with a tray of dishes.

    Marcone stood. “I trust you can see yourself back to your room? I need to prepare my message to the court in regards to you.” He said.

    Serenade nodded. “Yeah, I think so.” She replied, standing and stretching. “I think I’m going to go lay down for another nap.”

    Marcone chuckled. “You sleep like a cat, almost all the time.” He mused aloud.

    Serenade stuck her tongue out. “So what if I do, it’s not like there’s anything else here to keep my attention.” She replied.

    Marcone smiled a shark-toothed grin once more. “I’m sure if you look hard enough, you’ll find something. However, I must make it clear that I cannot be bothered during the day, or when I am dealing with clients. If you need to see me, tell Neptuna, and she will be sure to let me know. Also, you may go anywhere in the house that you please, so long as the door is not locked, and you do not make a mess. And no, I won’t be telling you what is behind those locked doors, you curious little neko.” Marcone chuckled, shaking his head.

    “You need to stop reading my mind.” Serenade said, wrinkling her nose. She glanced once more at the tapestry as she made her way out of the dining hall, noting this time that it seemed to portray a battle of some sort. She yawned once more, her eyelids becoming heavy to keep open. Making note once more to give the tapestry a closer look, she made her way back to her room, and into bed, curling up and soon falling asleep.
    Last edited by jayeljay; 2009-09-10 at 11:39 PM.
    Credit to Elrond for avvy. ^_^

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Question: how long can they be? Also, can you post more than one story at a time?
    The man who does Spoiler Warning, that website, that book, and brought Nixon back from the grave.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    A tip to anyone wanting to write: If you want to write a story based on a Roleplay you create
    Don't.

    Neko Tales continued
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    The faults from the first two parts are still very much evident. Redundant dialogue included. Marcone explains that the mortal realm contains mortals twice. Also everytime someone speaks you start a new line of dialogue. Even if they're just talking out loud to themselves.
    Another minor point
    "You would likely not retain the form of a neko after this process"
    At no point in this story has anyone called Serenade a 'neko'. Just say 'retain your current form' or something similar. These chapters have too much infodumping as it is (something one of your own characters comments on) and this term would just necessitate another one just to make sense.

    From a more general story perspective there are a few things. There's Marcone, who's first appearance was a deus ex machina. Also plot hole alert
    “Again with the regulations? It’s like all contact between the mortal and immortal realms is almost completely forbidden.”

    “In some ways, it is my dear.
    But presumably not in ways that allow you to scatter items of magical power throughout such worlds, send agents to such world to make sure specific mortals get said items of power nor does it restrict your rights to bring mortal people across the divide and put them up in your own house.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rutskarn View Post
    Question: how long can they be? Also, can you post more than one story at a time?
    No particular limit on length for a complete short story. I think each post can hold approximately 8000 words, and my first story was 21,000 words for example, so if you need to split over posts, go ahead and do so. (Longer stories like that are often referred to as "novellas".)

    Yes, go ahead and post more than one here if you wish. This will help us get started. This offer is only open to the first 8 posters of work, however. Once we're going, the "proper" way to do that would be to go through what's already posted and provide 3 critiques for each story before posting those.
    I have my own TV show featuring local musicians performing live. YouTube page with full episodes and outtake clips here.
    I also have another YouTube page with local live music clips I've filmed on my own.

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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Alright. Only I was planning on giving the ol' Vatsy and Bruno an airing, a story I've already "published" on my site a couple months ago. I wanted to know if that was kosher or not.

    If so, one advantage is that I can actually link to a finished version of that and its sequel, the second story I was planning to link.
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    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Since so far there seem to be only 2 stories up so far, I'm contributor number three, and will post my story without giving three critiques first, although I will add a critique to Onami's Greeting at the end.


    The Dream-Singer, a classic Weird Tale
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    The Dream-Singer

    When he had bought the old house in Barring Street, Thomas Malloy intended things to be different. The act of buying a house, and one, he admitted it silently to himself, though to no one else, that was far to big for just one person, was a way of purifying himself, of getting rid of the memories of the shambles of his marriage and the face of his wife, that, once smiling under her wedding crown, now was a mask of disgust and anger. He had found the house in on of the oldest parts of the town, a dark, towering mansion that had accumulated dust ever since the millionaires who had last inhabited it were forced to abandon it when the Great Depression hit. It was old, and it had barely been maintained by the people who cared for it, so it was not actually thaat expensive. Not cheap, still, but Thomas was not poor, his last exhibition had been a success, as if to mock his private life. Perhaps, he thought, and grinned bitterly, it is true that the best artists are those who suffer.
    But no more, that was for sure. Standing in the door, watching the last movers drive away in their truck, he turned to face his new property. Of course there had been no housewarming party. He had never been a person to make friends easily, instead preferring silence and the seclusion of solitary dreaming and painting. What friends he had when the divorce was through abandoned him quickly, caring more for his ex-wife than for him, the loner. But he did not care, for in this house, he imagined, he would finally have all the time to dream, paint, and think. His creativity would buy him the luxury of solitude, his soiltude would inspire his creativity.
    His footfall echoing through the mansion, he made the tour of the house again, as he had done with the man who had shown him the building when he first was interested in it. This time, however, he had time to breathe in the air of dust, time, and forgotten things that hung above the whole edifice like an actual smell. Already, he began to feel his poet's sensitivities being touched by the strange aura of this place.
    The bedroom was the most beautiful part of the house, Thomas had decided when he had first seen it. A dusty, half blind window brought shadowy illumination to the room, smoothing the edges and giving a magical feeling to everything the golden light touched. Motes of dust danced in the fading sunlight, and the big desk, made of blackened wood and golden inlays, was waiting for him, beckoning him to sit down and forget all his sorrows that ailed him outside of this enchanted room. Bookshelves lined the wall, half-filled with tomes and books as old as the house itself, telling of forgotten stories and age-old legends, waiting to be flipped open and cast their spells upon their reader.
    But the main piece was the four-poster bed. Huge, far bigger than any person would ever need, it was an ancient piece of furniture, hung with drapes and decorated with wooden ornaments depicting flowers, trees, birds, and, for a reason Thomas could not fathom, giant moths. It's pillows and the cover where fluffy and soft, as if they waited to engulf the dreamer wholly in their nightly embrace. At once, he felt a sense of home and ressurance, of quiet calm and tranquility. Resting here, no nightmare would dare to lay it's hands upon him, and he would wake again refreshed to his very core. Although it must have stood there, unattented, for quite a while, it did not seem used, or worn by time, rather appearing old in another sense, as if time had accumulated within it, instead of degrading it. A magical thing, Thomas thought, as he passed on to visit the other rooms.
    The day wore away with the work of making the house his home, unpacking his things and moving his furniture, and many things more. In the evening, he felt tired and decided to call it an early night. After dressing for the night, he crept under the blanket of his new bed for the first time, hoping the night would indeed do away with his worries.
    He fell asleep quickly, dreaming of nothing until he suddenly woke up. A moth, with beatufiul wings, and at least as big as the palm of his hands, circled through the room. Though he had no idea how exactly this insect had managed to get in, as the window was not opened, he was not afraid or disgusted at all, but filled with peace and wonder at the beauty of the animal's wings. It, too, seemed to have noticed him although such a thing should be impossible for a moth, and flew towards him, gently, making no sound despite it's size. The strange security he felt heightened itself at the approach of the moth, until he sat upright in bed, smiling as his nightly visitor sat down upon his outstretched hand.
    When, and how, he fell asleep again he could not remember, but what he remembered where vivid dream-images and fantastical nightly vistas that had visited him in his sleep. Thomas felt dreamy, but was seized by the urgent need to write down what he had seen at night. He had to do it now, while his memory was still fresh, and so he sat down at his desk, not bothering to dress for the day. He opened one of the giant volumes that lay scattered about his table, and was not surprised to find the pages empty and waitng. With his favorite pen, he began writing down the wonders he had seen, careful not to let them slip away. He wrote, and wrote, not caring for the progress of time, nor feeling any bodily urge. Hunger and thirst were beyond him, and when he finally finished his work, Thomas felt refreshed and elated. Not wanting to destroy his feelings with mundane tasks, he walked through the house whistling to himself, thinking of what treasures had been bestowed upon him while he was dreaming, and hoping that his next night would bring more.
    Thus he passed time, only eating a small amount of soup and bread before going to bed again, eager to revisit the lands he had been shown. Soon he found out that he would not be dissapointed, as he quickly found himself in the lands that he had seen as from afar. This time, the moth was with him, even more beautiful in dream than it was in life, and he spent many a dream-hour following his mystcial guardian through the enchanted lands.
    The next day found him still asleep at midday, and it was only at three o'clock pm that he awoke, and at once began to write down his nightly adventure, as not to let a singly memory slip away. Again, time and his body mattered not to him, only in writing did he gain pleasure. When he laid down his pen, night had fallen again. As soon as he was finished writing, a great drowsyness overcame him, and he threw himself on the bed and fell asleep as soon as he touched the pillow.
    As the last nights, he visited the dream-lands, again in the company of his insect friend. He had begun to think of it as a friend, feeling somehow that he was tied in to his spectacular dreams, yes, even responsible for them, his nocturnal benefactor, who had brought him these wonders when he had encountered him the first night.
    This time, he wandered the streets of a great city, made of marble and a stone he could not identify. Great temples, wonderful statues and incredible houses lined the streets, and sunlight warmed his shoulders. In the distance, he heard the thundering of the ocean, though where in the world he was, or if even in this world, he did not know, and did not care. All the people he saw where friendly, and smiled as he passed by. Some even greeted him, but he only heard them as from a very far distance, and did not understand a word they said, instead smiling back and waving.

    Many nights Thomas spent dreaming, and many days he spent writing, or painting what he had dreamed at night. It mattered little to him that he did barely eat, he did not NEED to eat. He was not afraid when he found out that he always spent longer and longer time dreaming, and that the time he was actually awake grew ever shorter. Writing down what he had dreamed became his only waking pleasure, and he had barely time to frantically put his dreams to paper before a great tiredness overcame him, each time stronger than the last time. Waking up grew painful, and he had to fight to even get out of bed, to regain control of his limbs, his senses, and his brain. It was as if he was struggling to get out of invisible webbing surrounding him, and he had to focus all his remaining willpower on WANTING to be awake. This, however, did not frighten him as well, nothing did. Soon, he figured, he would lose himself in dreams, and never wake up. This thought, as fearful as it might have sounded to him weeks before, now only brought a weak sense of alienation to him, accompanied by the longing to give in to the calls of the dream-moth, a being he now regarded with almost a worship, seeing in her, for he had decided it was a her, like an angel, the messenger that supplied him with the visions that he thrived on. When she called, he would follow her, and go life forever in the lands she lead him to, a happy inhabitant of the sun-warmed city, a grateful human among equals. He would cast of his earthly body and exchange it for the dream-body he inhabited more or less constantly now. The world would fade away...
    NOTE: The body of Thomas Malloy was found dead in his house in Barring Street, seemingly passed away quietly in his sleep. He was barely visible beneath the huge bedsheets, emaciated almost beyond recognition. The food he bought was partially rotten, and seems to not have been touched for at least a few weeks. On Thomas' desk was found a book filled with descriptions of what the police thinks are Thomas' dreams, telling of a wonderful land that apparently meant very much to him. The late entries are barely readably and senseless scribbling in most parts. The same seems to have happend to his paintings. The first pieces were beautiful renderings of a buccolic landscape with little cottages or of a giant city, filled with light and warmth, while the latest drawings are little more but paint threwn on the canvas without order.
    His mouth was slightly open, smiling, his lips parted as to allow a small creatue to escape.
    When the mortician opened Thomas' scull, they found only the remains of a moth's egg inside the cavity of his skull, while the brain to have been eaten away.


    And now the critique for Tequila Sunrise

    I like your poem. It's very clear structured, and this carries on into the individual stanzas. They all have the air of a wise saying.
    It also evokes a slightly Japanese setting to me, and I imagine Onami as a kind of samurai warrior rallying his men with wisdom and soft words instead of loud battlecries. There's also a sort of last stand feel to it, as Onami does not use "could kill you, or want to kill you" but "will kill you".

    The connection between the interlocking stanzas is abit hard to grasp, and I'm not really sure if I get them, but my interpretation is this: On the one hand, Onami tells of hands and how they hold what is in our heart, and on the other hand he tells of how man can rise to glory. There seems t be no connection at first glance, but when you think about it, in the last lines, he ties them together. "Man can earn greatness, and I'm going to do it. I welcome you with my hands (the hands of a hero, of one who is destined for greatness) so that you too can be a hero"

    THe last lines are especially powerful, as it gives the impression of a (desperate?) determined warrior band, bound to perish but sure to be remembered as great men (as the poem is set in the past, and seems to be told like a legend)
    Last edited by GolemsVoice; 2009-09-12 at 02:10 PM.
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